Palmer's Olde Tyme Candy Shoppe - Gastro Obscura

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Palmer's Olde Tyme Candy Shoppe

Sioux City, Iowa

This 19th century Sioux City candy company is the home of the Twin Bing, a historic, chocolate-covered treat. 

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Many aspiring travelers love to start their road trips with a bang. However, if you’d rather start your vacation with a Bing, you’ll need to head to the Siouxland to visit the home of Palmer Candy Company. For more than a hundred years, Palmer Candy has been making Bings, a regional chocolate, nougat, cherry, and roasted peanut treat.

Like a phoenix, or a very gooey chocolate, the history of the Bing was birthed in flame. Family patriarch Edward Cook Palmer moved to Sioux City, Iowa in 1878, after his Michigan home burned down, and he bought a wholesale grocery business after arriving. Originally specializing in fruit, but by the 1900s, the company diversified into candy. 

The 1920s were a time of candy bar experimentation, and the origins of the Bing are murky. But in 1923, a member of the company had the inspired ideal to add a nut hash to the top of their nougat and chocolate candy ball, and the Bing was born. Originally produced in maple, vanilla, pineapple, and cherry, it is the cherry Bing that is best known today. The Bing proved so popular that the company eventually focused all its efforts on the candy business, and the fruit company closed its doors in 1969.

Bings were originally sold individually, but by the 1960s, inflation had doubled the price of most candy bars from five to 10 cents. As inflation threatened to increase the price of the Bing further, the Palmer company decided to offer more Bing for the buck. The unusual shape of the Bing meant that it would be too big to fit in a vending machine if enlarged, so each package would instead contain two Bings. The product was renamed the Twin Bing in 1973. The change was a hit, and the two familiar mounds of chocolate became a grocery staple, even celebrating its 100th birthday in 2023.

Today, the company is still owned by the Palmer family, and every Bing is still made by hand, making it likely the biggest selling hand-made candy bar in the world. Although you can purchase them at convenience stores across the upper midwest and into the Rocky Mountains, it is at Palmer’s Olde Tyme Candy Shoppe where you can get the fullest Bing experience. You can purchase Twin Bings, King Bings (three lumps!), and a variety of flavors, along with other bulk candies produced by the venerable company that account for much of its revenue. A small museum recounts an Oompa Loompa-free history of a working candy factory, and matching Bing gifts are available, from earrings to salt and pepper Twin Bing shakers.

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