Picture of Leonard Wurzel

Leonard Wurzel

Class of 2015

Born in Philadelphia on February 4, 1918, Leonard graduated from Washington and Jefferson College in 1939 and earned an MBA from Harvard University in 1941.

Drafted into the U.S. Army infantry in September, 1941, he rose from private to captain before his discharge in 1946 as an assistant adjutant general. His service earned him a Bronze Star, and he was later awarded the Insignia of Chevalier of the Legion of Honor in 2013 for service in France and Germany, 1944-45.

He joined Loft Candy Co. in Long Island City, NY, in 1946 and followed in his father Maurice’s footsteps to become President in 1957. Failing to purchase the business outright, Leonard then founded Calico Cottage Industries in 1964 in Hewlett, NY, with the concept of manufacturing candy, especially fudge, in full view of consumers at franchised stores. Ahead of his time, and working from an 800-square-foot basement, he pioneered the development of standardized candy recipes and ingredient mixes to ensure consistent, quality results, even from non-confectioners.

By that time, he had married Elaine Cohen and moved the firm to Sands Point, NY, where they raised sons Mark and Larry.

In 1969, Leonard expanded his business concept into in-store candy departments in Arlan Discount Department Stores, where under the name Watchit Maid, consumers could see fudge being hand-made. Unfortunately, Arlans’ 119 stores did not survive past 1973 in the face of recession and increased competition from other discount chains. Undeterred, and armed with proof he could sell fudge year-round, Leonard reinvented the business with an on-site, fresh fudge-making retail program, finding early success at Marshall Field’s in Chicago.

His foresight meant continually enlarging his operations and workforce. He also supported trade shows and became heavily involved with Retail Confectioners International, eventually serving as its president.

Leonard retired from Calico in 1992, with sons Mark and Larry continuing his legacy, and enabling their father to see the 1999 expansion into the current 45,000-square-foot location in Amityville, NY.

Outside of the candy world, Leonard was known for his civic service, sitting on the Sands Point Board of Zoning Appeals, and becoming its chairman in 1976. He was elected to the Board of Trustees in 1981, and he is credited with saving important Sands Point waterfront property from developers in 1994. Many locals considered him the founder and mentor of the Village Club of Sands Point, and on April 17, 1989, he was appointed mayor of Sands Point and served as elected mayor until his retirement in June 2011. Leonard passed away on November 16, 2013, aged 95.