Jeff Jaffe

Jeff Jaffe

Class of 1977

During his career in the confectionery industry Jeff H. Jaffe served as Chairman and President of The Chunky Corp. and President and CEO of Ward Foods Candy, Ward Foods Branded Foods Group, Schrafft Candy Co. and Bernan Foods.

In 1950, Jeff leveraged the purchase of a small bankrupt candy company in Brooklyn known for a chocolate bar called Chunky.

At the time, he was told: “Make it flat. You’ll never get a nickel for that funny-looking, not-quite-square, truncated something or other. Make it flat like a Hershey bar. Then you’ll have something to sell.” His marketing skills and willingness to take risks built Chunky into a major player in the industry.

Through the years, Jeff acquired other candy companies. In 1951, he reached an agreement with Rowntree & Co. of York, England to import Kit Kat, and achieved nationwide distribution. Shutter Candy Co., manufacturer of Bit-O-Honey and Old Nick, was purchased in 1958, and Klotz Confection Co. followed in 1960.

In 1965, he bought Chocolate Sponge from Heide Candy Co. and produced it in the Shutter plant in Chicago. He added Oh Henry!, purchased from the Williams Candy Co., in 1971.

Well-respected in the industry, Jeff was honored in 1964 by the Association of Manufacturers of Candy and Chocolate. He was the youngest executive, at age forty-four, to be honored in this fashion. In 1971, he received the Kettle Award, recognized for his “endless efforts on behalf of his industry and his community . . .”

Two noteworthy accomplishments were the Chunky exhibit at the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair and the Harvard Business School case study on Chunky. The World’s Fair exhibit, an actual manufacturing plant, automatically coated, wrapped and packaged Old Nick candy bars. It also contained the “Sculpture Continuum” that served as an art form and a functional children’s playground and an area where company products were sold. It was proclaimed that the Chunky exhibit “could not help but benefit the entire candy industry.”

Harvard Business School’s Midway Series was used by nearly 1,000 MBA participants in the Executive Education Programs each year. A landmark in case writing, the study was used by more than 50 universities at home and abroad and dozens of Fortune 50 companies. For sixteen years, Jeff lectured on the study to hundreds of HBS students and in 1977 was ceremoniously honored “for his important service to Harvard Business School.”

He served on many Boards (including Young Presidents’ Organization) and contributed to various communities throughout his life. In 2001, he brought Sir John Templeton’s “Laws of Life” essay contest to Martin County, FL. Reaching students of all backgrounds, the contest inspired them to focus on their principles and ideals.

Jeff was born Irwin Hugh Jaffe on December 25, 1920, in Washington, DC. Nicknamed “Jeff” at Virginia Polytechnic Institute where he received a degree in Architectural Engineering, he legally changed his name shortly after 2001. Unhappy as an architectural engineer, he left the family painting and construction business and moved to Manhattan in April, 1945. There he met his wife, Natalie, on a blind date. They were married six months later.

Jeff passed away of natural causes on July 27, 2014, at the age of 93.