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Whitman's is one of America's largest and oldest brands of boxed chocolates. Whitman's confections have been produced since 1842, originally by Stephen Whitman in Philadelphia and currently by Russell Stover Candies. The Whitman's Sampler, an assortment of boxed chocolates, is still popular.
Whitman's confections have been produced for over 160 years. Originally a "confectionery and fruiterer shoppe" set up in 1842 by 19-year-old Stephen F. Whitman on the Philadelphia waterfront, Whitman's first became popular with travelling sailors and their wives. They would often bring imported fruits, nuts and cocoa, obtained during their voyages, to Mr. Whitman so that he could make the popular European confections people craved in that era. Before long, Whitman's chocolates were popular throughout the northeastern United States.
Whitman's produced the first pre-packaged candy in 1854—a box of sugar plums adorned with curlicues and rosebuds. Whitman began advertising in newspapers shortly before the beginning of the Civil War and the business grew so large that in 1866 the company occupied an entire building at 12th and Market Streets in Philadelphia. In 1877, he introduced Instantaneous Chocolates in tin boxes that became much-admired.
Whitman's introduced the perennially popular and still best-selling Whitman's Sampler in 1912, marking the first use of cellophane by the candy industry, and in 1946, helped General Electric to develop a refrigerated display case to guard the product against warmer temperatures and extend the selling season through the summer months.
In the early 1960s, Whitman's was purchased by Pet, Inc., a manufacturer of evaporated milk as part of the company's attempt to become a food products conglomerate. In 1993, Pet sold the Whitman's brand to Russell Stover Candies, the major supplier of boxed candy in the United States.