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Posted Jul 8, 2015

July 8 – Do You Remember Sanders Chocolates?

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Wednesday, July 8, 2015

This week the 365 Stories will recall fun places, people, and local foods that defined living in southeast Michigan between 1950 and 1990.

Any metro Detroiter knows: there’s no treat in the world as delicious as Sanders Bumpy-Cake and Hot Fudge.

Frederick Sanders Schmidt opened his first Detroit-based store, Sanders Confectionary,” on June 17, 1875 with nothing besides his childhood dreams, a barrel of borrowed sugar, and a leased shop on Woodward Avenue at Gratiot in downtown Detroit. An earlier version of the store, in Chicago, had been destroyed in the great fire of 1871. Eventually, there were more than 57 Sanders stores in the Great Lakes Region alone, selling candy, fudge toppings, and baked goods, as well as light lunches and an assortment of fountain counter specialties, including Ice Cream Sodas, Sundaes and Hot Fudge Cream Puffs.

On a hot summer day in 1876, Sanders concocted what was to be believed the first ice-cream soda! According to legend Fred created the drink when the milk and cream turned sour one busy afternoon. Not wanting to disappoint his customers, Sanders substituted ice cream, and the drink was an immediate success.

“The Pavilion of Sweets,” Sanders’ most famed confectionary shop, opened on Woodward in 1891. It had a red and white awning, and a tower that was similar to one found in a mosque.

Sanders soon became the leading purveyor of confections in the region and started selling directly to national supermarket chains, as well as to other retailers in the area.

Sanders was one of the first companies in Detroit to use electric motors to run equipment. As a new source of technology the motors would often break down. When Fred Sanders grew tired of the “faulty motor,” he threatened to throw it out. Edison talked Sanders into giving the motor another try and sent over a repair man. That repair man was the young Henry Ford, who worked as a mechanic at Edison Illuminating Company before he started Ford Motor Company.

In the early 1900s the Sanders family owned one of the first electric automobiles; it provided much amusement for the early skeptics. The “electric” seemed to have a temperamental streak; it would bring the family downtown in grand style, but once parked in front of the Sanders store it would refuse to run except in reverse.

In 2002 Morley Candy Makers, Inc. purchased the Sanders name and original recipes to add to its own tradition. Morley Candy Makers was founded in 1919. They are proud to continue the Sanders tradition of making “Chocolate worth sharing,” and still follow Fred Sanders recipes that date as far back as 1875.


To commemorate the City of Troy’s 60th Anniversary in 2015, we will publish a different story each day that highlights a person, discovery, or event that occurred locally, regionally, nationally, or even globally between 1955 and 2015 and that helped shape our lives and our community. We will try to post stories on important anniversary dates, but we also realize that dates are less critical than content and context. We will include the facts related to controversial stories, allowing our readers to form their own opinions. We invite you to read and comment on the stories. Your suggestions for topics are also welcome and can be posted on our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/TroyHistoricVillage. You can also email stories or ideas to the 365 Story Editor at ed@thvmail.org.

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