Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Brown & Haley's Mountain Bar

Mountain Bar
Brown and Haley, $1.25

Seattle's gritter neighbor to the south, Tacoma was long renowned for a distinctive "Tacoma aroma" produced by its many local industries.  But since the early twentieth century, at least one inner-city manufacturer has given locals a good reason to inhale deeply:  the Brown & Haley confectionery company.  

Starting their business in 1912, founders Harry Brown and JC Haley faced both challenges and opportunities similar to those faced by budding confectioners in 2008.  With the country on the brink of crisis, the demand for affordable luxuries rose steadily even as supply chains became increasingly unpredictable.  

Launched in 1915, the "Mount Tacoma Bar" became a particular favorite with the young soldiers training at nearby Camp Lewis (now Joint Base Lewis McChord).  A center of vanilla fondant layered with tempered chocolate and crushed peanuts, the confection was soon renamed the "Mountain Bar" as its popularity spread beyond the city limits.  A cherry version was added in the 1920s and a peanut butter one in 1974.  The female "dippers' who originally made each bar by hand (below left) were eventually replaced by machines capable of making 592 bars per minute.

Brown & Haley is still operating in downtown Tacoma, led by JC's granddaughter Anne Haley.  Although the factory floor is now closed to visitors, you can visit the outlet store (housed in a kiosk recycled from Seattle's 1968 World's Fair) for seconds, specials, and generous samples. 

Brown & Haley Factory Store
110 E 26th St 
Tacoma WA
253 / 620-3067
110 East 26th St, Tacoma, WA 98421(253) 620-3067
110 East 26th St, Tacoma, WA 98421(253) 620-3067

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