Class of 2021
Kurt Rosenberg is remembered as a hard-working, enthusiastic and loving leader with a career spanning 70 years.
Kurt was born on December 17, 1924, in Grossen Buseck, Germany, to Bella and Isaac. He had an older brother, Harry, who died as a teenager and an older sister Meta. His upbringing is described as classic European, focused on hard work, frugality, religion and morality, education and perseverance.
Kurt’s parents brought the family to America in 1937, when he was just 13 years old. They settled in New York City, where Kurt immediately began to assimilate and learn English. In 1939, he became a U.S. citizen and attended Benjamin Franklin High School, graduating in 1942 at the top of his class.
When World War II broke out, Kurt enlisted in the U.S. Army and trained at Camp Fannin, in Texas. He was honorably discharged in 1946.
After the war, Kurt became a licensed optician, and attended The City College of New York on the GI Bill, taking classes at night while working multiple jobs during the day to help provide for his family.
At one of these jobs, while delivering eggs on Staten Island, a customer asked Kurt: “Why don’t you see if you can get me some candy to sell.” That was the beginning of Rosenberg & Berlin, which eventually evolved into Arbee Fine Food Imports.
Around this time, Kurt met Marion at a dance in the Bronx. They married in January of 1953 and had four children: Michael, a member of the Candy Hall of Fame Class of 2013, Paul and twin daughters Donna and Dorette.
By the early 1950s, Kurt was taking trips to still war-ravaged Europe to obtain exclusive importing rights to confection brands including Kit Kat. He also sourced Godiva and Sarotti chocolates from Germany, Baronie chocolates from Holland, Toggenburger Swiss wafers, Werni cookies, Swiss Nuts chocolate biscuits, Arnie Swiss chocolates, and many others.
Kurt eventually sold the business to Gulf & Western Industries and in 1969 joined and then purchased The Hubbs Importing Corp., where he continued developing products, including Toggi chocolate-covered wafers, and bringing European brands to the U.S., including Maestrani and Munz Swiss chocolates.
Hubbs Importing was eventually absorbed into The Promotion In Motion Companies., Inc., now PIM Brands, Inc., which was founded by Kurt’s son Michael and where Kurt then served as secretary treasurer.
While Kurt was building his business, he was also instrumental in helping establish the gourmet confectionery sector in the U.S. market. He was a founder of both the National Association for Specialty Food Trade, now the Specialty Food Association, and the Fancy Food Show. He exhibited at the first Fancy Food Show in 1955 at the Astor Hotel, in New York and went on to participate in every subsequent show for more than 50 years. Kurt was inducted into the Specialty Food Association Hall of Fame in 2015.
In addition, Kurt attended, participated in, and supported countless NCA events, including the Sweets & Snacks Expo, State of the Industry Conference and Washington Forum. He was also active in the vending and convenience store organizations.
Kurt was longtime leader at Temple Israel, in Ridgewood, NJ, where he became a congregation elder. He was also a community spokesman at his temple and other houses of worship in the New York area, speaking on the Holocaust.
Kurt loved attending classical music concerts, listening to opera, travel, collecting antiques, art and stamps, and studying the U.S. and World War II history.
Kurt was still working full time when he passed away on November 26, 2019, just three weeks shy of his 95th birthday.
Throughout Kurt’s seven plus decade career, he demonstrated a great sense of business savvy and entrepreneurial spirit, while humbly contributing to the betterment of the community in which he lived.