Oliver R. Chase
Class of 2006
Born in England in July 1821, Oliver immigrated to the Boston area around 1847 where he invented and patented the first American candy machine, a lozenge cutter.
Oliver worked in the apothecary/confectionery industry where he made lozenges composed of gum Arabic, peppermint and brown sugar by hand. After an increase in orders from apothecary shops, he rigged his homemade lozenge cutter to keep up with demand.
In the midst of the Industrial Revolution, the new machine allowed Oliver to manufacture large quantities of lozenges. This marked the founding of the U.S. candy industry, as well as the beginning of commercial candy production.
Opening his first factory on Boston’s Melcher Street, he then developed a patented machine for pulverizing sugar in 1850. The inventor later partnered with his brother, Daniel, and Silas Edwin, to found Chase and Co., the predecessor to today’s New England Confectionery Co. (NECCO). His original lozenge evolved into the company’s flagship brand, the Necco Wafer.
After discovering a way to print on shaped lozenges, Daniel went on to create the forerunner to Sweethearts Conversation Hearts. Oliver retired in 1888 and died in 1902; however, his candy products live on in today’s Necco Wafers, Canada Mints and Sweethearts Conversation Hearts.