Lent is over, and we’re still enjoying our Easter candy here in New Orleans, but this year just isn’t the same. Although the familiar Elmer’s Chocolates, second largest manufacturer of the heart box in the country and the maker of Heavenly Hash Gold Brick, and Pecan Eggs is still located in the area, it moved across the lake to Ponchatoula in the early ‘60s. Nonetheless, it’s a venerable local company, established in 1855 in New Orleans and today run by the third generation of the Nelson family. The company’s founder was Christopher Henry Miller, a German immigrant to New Orleans. His first shop was on the corner of Jackson Street and Levee Street in New Orleans. Later it became Elmer-Miller, the name of Augustus Elmer was added, when he married into the Miller family. In 1914 it became The Elmer Company . Roy Nelson bought the company in 1963 from the Elmer family, who first began making Heavenly Hash Eggs in 1923 and Gold Brick Eggs in 1938. Elmer’s didn’t invent the Heavenly Hash recipe, but bought it from a department store. Today the company makes 15 million candy eggs a year, and we eat a lot of them in New Orleans!
What’s missing from the mix, though, is Merlin Candies. Merlin made chocolate bunnies, and any local would tell you that Easter wasn’t complete without a chocolate Merlin bunny. Merlin’s original operation was uptown on Magazine Street, opening in 1947. It moved to Elmwood in Metairie a few years ago, but now it is no more-sold just last year to R.M. Palmer of West Reading, Pennsylvania. Oh well, we’ve still got the inlaid door tiles for the Russell Stover store on Canal Street in downtown New Orleans, even though that store went away a long time ago as well! Old-timers may remember the purple-mirrored glass in the store at the corner of Canal Street and St. Charles Avenue. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:CanalStChasRussellStoverDoor.jpg.
Now, though, we’re looking forward to the free 29th Annual French Quarter Festival , the South’s largest music festival, taking place April 12-15 and featuring over 800 local musicians on numerous stages scattered through the French Quarter. You can take a streetcar from your New Orleans Bed and Breakfast, Southern Comfort Bed and Breakfast, and you’ll be able to enjoy food from more than 65 of New Orleans’ restaurants. The party continues!