Whitman's Timeline

Whitman's is 175 years old, making us America's longest operating chocolate brand. Giving and passing a box of Whitman's chocolates has been a well loved American family tradition for generations, and will continue to be one for generations to come. Our archives are bursting with story. We hope you enjoy your stroll through a few of our most notable memories.

Download Full History


Stephen F. Whitman opens a small retail "Confectionery and Fruiterer Shop" at Third and Market Streets in Philadelphia. He hopes to compete with the finer French candy makers of the time.


"Choice Mixed Sugar Plums" from Stephen F. Whitman becomes the first packaged confection in a printed, marked box-now known as a "trademarked" package.


Whitman's first newspaper advertisement, a novelty during the era, appears on December 29th-three months prior to the beginning of The Civil War.


"Whitman's Instantaneous Sweet Chocolate", its first of many famous tin-boxed chocolates, is introduced to the public.


Whitman's Sampler® makes it's official debut. The Sampler box includes a collection of the most popular pieces of candy sold in the confectionery shop. Whitman's becomes the first in its industry to use cellophane to wrap its packaged products. Cellophane is imported from France until 1924, when production began in the United States. For many years, Whitman's is the largest single user of cellophane in America.


Just three years after its introduction, the Whitman's Sampler® emerges as the most popular assortment in the Whitman's line and the best-selling box of chocolates in America. In recognition of its standing, the Messenger Boy is introduced, becomes a registered trademark, and is added as a piece of candy to the Sampler.


The Great Depression reaches its lowest level. Whitman's continues to lead the candy industry with an unabated advertising and selling effort, and a steadfast refusal to reduce prices, lower dealers' profits or sacrifice consumer quality.


Louis McIlhenney launches the Sampler's most famous advertising campaign, "A Woman Never Forgets the Man Who Remembers." The campaign remains popular for the next two decades.


Between 1942-45, Whitman's sends six million pounds of chocolate to overseas servicemen in Land, Sea & Air tins. Women on Whitman's production lines slip notes into boxes to comfort the fighting men. Many of these letters result in long-term friendships and even some post-war marriages.


The Sampler box is enhanced through the introduction of the "French Edge", with the top and bottom edges extending beyond the sides of the box. This packaging modification becomes the hallmark of all fine candy, and remains a signature of the Sampler box to this day.


Beginning in 1950 and for the next decade, Bing Crosby, John Wayne, Bob Hope and Elizabeth Taylor are among the many motion picture stars who appear in "The Saturday Evening Post" advertisements endorsing Whitman's Chocolates. Compensation for these endorsements is in boxes of chocolates and a mention of the star's upcoming motion picture.


Whitman's Candies becomes a permanent fixture in the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History. Dozens of company artifacts, including old Sampler boxes and magazine ads, help museum curators better understand how Americans lived in the 19th and 20th centuries.


In keeping with Whitman's tradition of sending chocolates with hand-written notes to troops for encouragement, Whitman's sent 6000 boxes with notes to troops following the terrorist attack against the United States on 9/11/2001.


Lindt & Sprungli, manufacturer of premium quality chocolates worldwide, acquires Russell Stover Candies and Whitman's Candies.


Whitman's Chocolates celebrates it's 175th Anniversary with new commemorative products quarterly throughout 2017.