By Jason DeRusha

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — When you’ve been making iconic candy for more than 100 years, it can be hard to innovate.

There are only so many things you can do to a Nut Roll, or a Mint Patty. So Pearson’s decided to launch a new product line. And it’s delicious.

This morning, DeRusha Eats in St. Paul, at 7th Street Confections.

Pearson’s is known for Nut Rolls, and just bought Bit-O-Honey. It’s very successful, but also somewhat limiting. So, 7th Street Confections launched with a line of Dark Chocolate Thins. It’s non-GMO dark chocolate, mixed with different grains and freeze dried fruit.

Michael Keller is the CEO of Pearson’s.

“Some of our ideas needed a new platform, and 7th Street Confections gives us that platform,” Keller said. “This is targeted to Gen X, Gen Y eater, who knows what’s going with food and food trends, interested in cleaner label, interested in healthy snacking.”

The name 7th Street Confections is a nod to 120,000 square foot candy plant in St. Paul, located on West 7th street. It also lets Pearson’s experiment, and innovate.

“It is kind of a blank slate with endless options. That’s really in many ways what we were going after,” Keller said.

When the plant gets cranking, it can fill one 5-ounce bag of thins every second.

There is plenty of new technology, but at its heart, this is an old school candy factory. And it takes hundreds of Twin Cities workers to carry that old tradition into the future.

“That’s a lot of jobs. It’s one of the things we’re proud of. We’re a good old, all American manufacturing industry in St. Paul, formerly in Minneapolis. We love the fact we employ so many people,” Keller said.


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