Local company sells the majority of its distinguished chocolates outside the area; Quality, creativity and consistency keep customers coming back for more.
With Easter right around the corner, things are really hopping at Waggoner Chocolates, 1281 S. Main St. in North Canton.
Thousands of Stark Countians have indulged by devouring Waggoner Chocolates’ decadent candies. But many locals don’t know the real story behind the brand.
Cedric “Joe” Waggoner is president of Waggoner Chocolates. He represents the third generation of a family with ties to the original Harry London Confections and a commitment to putting smiles on the faces of people, young and old.
Harry London Confections was founded in 1922 in Harry’s Canton home. Following the death of his first wife in 1943, Harry married Iola Campbell, Joe’s grandmother. Harry and Iola began growing a thriving business.
Shortly before his death in 1969, Harry decided to add son-in-law, Cedric T. Waggoner, and stepdaughter, Bonnie, — Joe’s parents — to the company’s leadership. The couple took the business to the next level, adding industry-leading products, thus developing the “Gift of Chocolate.”
Joe and his sisters, Mercedes and Allison joined the team in the late ’80s and ’90s, along with Mercedes’ husband, Peter Young. Revolutionary products, industry-leading designs and multi-million-dollar ventures followed.
The family continued to evolve and expand the business until its sale in 2003. Joe then decided to carry on the family tradition by opening Waggoner Chocolates in the original family factory, built by his grandparents in 1954.
That decision has resulted in many fond moments for chocolate lovers, locally and around the world.
Waggoner Chocolates produces more than 100 varieties of bulk and individually wrapped chocolates and seasonal confections. The company sells to customers in all 50 states, China, Europe and Canada.
The company’s chocolates are made with the freshest, finest ingredients from around the world. Waggoner believes in the tradition of providing customers with products and packaging that will be remembered, just as Harry London did nearly a century ago.
Joe recalled several industry-changing revolutions his family has been involved with, including the original chocolate kiss and the famous chocolate hot lips.
“Behind every great product is the real story,” Joe said. “Our family has been involved in creating a lot of great products over the years.”
One of those great products is Waggoner’s Peanut Butter Buckeyes.
Joe had the desire to create Peanut Butter Buckeyes using real chocolate. He experimented at home for months until satisfied the product was ready for mass production.
Peanut Butter Buckeyes are now one of the most popular candies sold by Waggoner’s. Pecan Caramel Dainties (also known as Turtles) are another Waggoner’s favorite. At this time of year, chocolate bunnies, eggs and various Easter collections are big sellers.
Today, 90 percent of the company’s products are sold under the Waggoner Chocolates brand.
But the family has also manufactured products for Disney, Ghirardelli, Nestle, United Airlines and many other well-known brands.
While the company has implemented modern technologies into its manufacturing process, there’s been a conscious effort to keep many of the old handmade qualities in Waggoner’s candies.
Joe wasn’t always interested in turning chocolate into his career. He’d worked in the family business through school, working daily from 4 to 8 p.m.
“After I got out of the service, my mom asked me to help out,” Joe said. “And here I am 30 years later.”
According to Joe, most people normally think about the sweet side of the chocolate business.
“There’s a lot of hard work that goes on behind the scenes,” Joe said.
That hard work is handled by a great team that’s committed to success.
“We appreciate what every Waggoner Chocolates employee does,” Joe said. “We all have our own unique talents. When we put it all together, it works.”
Joe is proud of how far Waggoner Chocolates has come since 2003.
“More than 15 years later, we have a great story to tell about a local family business that’s selling products around the world,” Joe said.
He hinted about the very real possibility of near-term growth for the company.
“We’re bursting at the seams here,” Joe said of the Main St. location. “We’re focused on responsible growth and doing what’s right for the company and our community.”
One thing’s certain.
Continued growth and success for Waggoner Chocolates will add up to a lot of sweet moments for our community — at Eastertime and throughout the year.