We understand that one of life’s sweetest pleasures is a simple box of chocolates. As a family-owned-and-operated business, we’ve been making our fine chocolates and other classic confections for five generations. Scroll down to learn about our history!
The value of the cocao bean didn’t stop as a simple drink, though. It was highly prized to the point that it was more valuable than gold.
Chocolate didn’t start off as the sweet (or bitter) delicacy we know it as today – it began as a beverage created from the bean of a cacao tree, harvested and assembled by the Maya, Toltec, and Aztec peoples of Mesoamerica.
While it’s disputed when exactly chocolate arrived in Europe, it’s widely accepted that Spanish explorers introduced it to Spain after their conquests in Mesoamerica.
Chocolate spreads through Europe, and its use in cuisine evolves as the cocao bean is introduced to wider parts of the world.
Just over 40 years later, chocolate had made its way north to Boston and the first chocolate house opened there in 1682.
It’s no surprise that chocolate would make its way to the early American colonies, as European nations began to settle along the coastlines of North America. The first record of chocolate in colonies was in 1641 when Spanish conquistadors brought the treat to Florida.
Chocolate was a popular addition to rations for the militia during the American Revolution. Sure, it may not have been tasty milk chocolate, but it proved to be a welcome treat!
The year is 1868 and big things are happening all around. Fans of alternative public transportation are introduced to the bicycle we know today, both scientists and birthday balloons are thrilled by the discovery of helium, and parade floats are introduced for the very first time at the Mardi Gras festival in New Orleans!
But honestly, the best thing to happen in the year of 1868 was the birth of our founder, Chester A. Asher. Born in England, Chester was raised as a Canadian Scotch-English farm boy and moved to the United States as an adult.
In 1889, Chester comes to the USA. He settles in Boston, Massachusetts, where he first learns to make chocolate. With his new-found passion for chocolate-making, Chester starts his first business, “Sweets from Around the World”.
In 1892, Chester moved to Center City, Philadelphia and officially founded Asher’s Chocolate. Chester operated his small candy store near Independence Hall. Growing in size and popularity, he decided to move the business to Germantown, Pennsylvania in 1899. The company was originally marketed as “Asher’s Candy”. In these early years, Chester sold more than just chocolate and candies, also specializing in canned and baked goods!
In 1908, Chester served on the Committee for the Celebration of Founders Day in Germantown – a celebration honoring the 225th Anniversary of the founding of the first German settlement in America. Chester didn’t just come to Germantown to make confections, he also came to be make an impact in his community.
Over the next 20 years, Chester builds three connecting plants behind his store and candy-making operation. As the company grows, Asher’s begins selling its products in bulk to large department stores along the East Coast. During this time, Chester’s four sons become increasingly involved in the family business.
Asher’s Candy continues to operate through two World Wars and the Great Depression. During the Great Depression, Chester’s youngest son, John Asher Sr. takes over the company. John takes his two sons, John Jr. (Jack) and Robert (Bob) under his wing to teach them how to run a confectionery.
Just a few chocolate treats made to withstand the heat are Fairy Bells and Mint Delights! But that wouldn’t be the last time Asher’s experimented! Needless to say the business was due for big changes.
When John Sr. dies unexpectedly in 1968, his sons Bob and Jack step up and take over as the new heads of Asher’s. Although a somber moment in the company’s history, the two newest leaders are prepared to carry the family’s namesake. Bob focused on Sales and Finance, while Jack handled Production.
Jack & Bob make a decision that changes the course of the company – they decided to focus completely on chocolate confections, and they start producing sugar-free chocolates as well the following decade.
Even with their new leadership roles at Asher’s, Bob & Jack still made time to serve their community. Bob volunteered with the Nature Conservancy and Salvation Army, as well as served as Township Commissioner and as State Party Chairman. Jack was a board member at the First Presbyterian Church in Germantown as well as a board member at Historic Cliveden where he found great joy in participating in the Battle of Germantown re-enactment for 40 years.
Jack’s involvement didn’t stop at the church or the battlefield – Jack also served as a volunteer firefighter for 35 years with the Wissahickon and Flourtown Fire Companies. In 1988, Jack received the Small Business Person of the Year award from the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce.
Under Jack & Bob, Asher’s ran an aggressive sales and production program and experienced major growth. By 1990, it was time for Asher’s to expand their operations out of the Germantown location.
Asher’s acquires Goss Candy Co. in Lewistown, Pennsylvania. Expanding the business allows Asher’s to grow into a larger company and continue to make more classic confections.
As Asher’s celebrates 100 years, a monumental achievement, Bob & Jack Asher relocate their facility in Germantown, PA, to a larger building. Bob runs Sales, and Jack heads Production. Over the next decade and a half, sales at this location will grow 22-fold.
After a 2-year search, a new location in Montgomery County, PA was found! A grand ceremony officially opens a headquarters in Souderton, Pennsylvania. This building provided a state-of-the-art 125,000 sq. ft. facility for primary production, warehousing and shipping, as well as business offices and a retail outlet!
The family legacy continues as Bob and Jack hand control of the company over to their sons. Bob’s son, Jeff, is named Vice President of Sales and Marketing. Jack’s sons, David and John III, are promoted to President and CFO, and assume the roles of Co-Chairmen of the Board.
Asher’s Chocolates has always created kosher products, but in 2003 we received our official OU-D Kosher certification.
Jack Asher is inducted into the Candy Hall of Fame. Other notable inductees include: Milton Hershey (The Hershey Co.) and Frank C. Mars (Mars Inc.)
In 2011, Asher’s is certified as a landfill-free enterprise, meaning all waste is either reused, recycled, or processed into renewable fuel. By doing this, Asher’s becomes a more eco-friendly business that strives to reduce its carbon footprint.
Asher’s Chocolates officially updates its name to Asher’s Chocolate Co.
In 2016, the board appoints Jeff Asher as president and CEO of Asher’s Chocolate Co.
Bob Asher continues to serve as Chairman of the Board.
The following year, Jeff leads the celebration of a huge milestone: Asher’s Chocolate’s 125th anniversary.
Jack Asher passes away, leaving behind an incredible legacy. Jack invested over 50 years of employment and management in Asher’s Chocolates.
Jeff’s daughter, Sophie Asher, joins the family business, representing the Asher’s brand at various community events, TV commercials, and even on QVC.
The Philadelphia Inquirer announces that Asher’s Chocolate Co. has won the 2019 Family-Owned Business Award in the Midsize Business category! This award is given to businesses that continue to not only grow as a company, but proudly represent Philadelphia as a community.
Early in 2022, Asher’s Chocolate Co. becomes SQF (Safe Quality Food) certified – a rigorous process that is recognized worldwide for its credible food safety and quality standards.
Bob Asher is awarded the 2022 Jack Lees Memorial Kettle Award during the 2022 RCAP Award Ceremony. The Asher’s family and sales team joins him in celebrating this prestigious award.
As the chocolate business continues to evolve, so does Asher’s. Through our devotion to family values, unmatched product quality, and exceptional customer service, Asher’s Chocolates is ready for more sweet success.
Asher’s Chocolate Co. is looking forward to continuing to bring the same quality and fine ingredients to our chocolates and classic confections for generations to come.