Collection Spotlight: D. L. Clark Company Records

D. L. Clark Company Records, 1923-1992, MSS 640

Extent: 0.75 linear ft. (2 boxes)

History of the D. L. Clark Company

The D. L. Clark Company traces its roots to Pittsburgh’s North Side in 1886 when David L. Clark, an Irish immigrant, first began selling candies out of a horse-drawn wagon.  In 1911, the Clark Company considerably expanded their business by acquiring a candy and cracker company in the North Side.  During these years of development, the Clark Company quickly became renowned for their innovations in candy production.  In particular, the company is known for its addition of mint, peanut butter and coconut to chocolate candies.

Looking into the Candy Business, ca1940s

Looking into the Candy Business, ca1940s

By 1920, the Clark Company was producing close to 150 different kinds of candy.  The Clark Company also ventured into the market of chewing gum production at this time.  The most enduring evidence of this venture is the company’s production of Teaberry gum.  Over the next ten years, D. L. Clark recognized the growing market for candy bars and subsequently decided to concentrate production on five-cent chocolate bars.  Consequently, the company became internationally renowned for its production and sale of chocolate bars, including the Clark Bar and the Zagnut Bar.

All throughout these years of production, the Clark Company remained at the North Side location it acquired in 1911.  As a result, the oversized Clark sign atop the factory became a longstanding Pittsburgh landmark.  In 1983, the confectioner company, Leaf, Inc. acquired the D.L. Clark Company.  Although Leaf, Inc. closed the North Side factory in the spring of 1986, it chose to sustain Clark candy manufacturing in the Pittsburgh area by relocating production to a plant in O’Hara Township.  Leaf, Inc. then sold the rights to the Clark Bar to Pittsburgh Food and Beverage Company.  After years of financial instability, this company reconstituted itself under the name of Clark Bar America in June of 1995.  In May of 1999, this company was purchased by the New England Confectionary Company (NECCO).  Clark Company candy continues to be manufactured by NECCO today.

Annual Report of D. L. Clark Company, 1953

Annual Report of D. L. Clark Company, 1953

Collection Summary

The D. L. Clark Company Records consist of photographs, postcards, newspaper clippings, advertisements, correspondence, annual reports, stock exchange documents, and newsletters related to the D. L. Clark Company.  Photographs, advertisements, and promotional literature document the various candy products manufactured by the Clark Company, such as Zagnut Bars, Peanut Butter Logs, Yogurt Delights and Clark Bars.  A VHS tape contains recordings of Clark candy commercials. Numerous photographs capture Clark candy window and aisle displays, including a 1959 Clark Bar Halloween window display at Pittsburgh’s Dollar Savings Bank.  Other photographs record Clark candy cameos in films such as Poltergeist, Wiz Kid, and Open All Night.

Clark and Zagnut display, ca1960s.

Grocery Store Display of Clark and Zagnut bars, ca1960s.

Annual reports, correspondence, by-laws, stock exchange documents, and a spring 1977 issue of Sweet Talk, the Clark Company’s employee newsletter, shed light on Clark Company business practices.  Annual reports from 1929 to 1953 document the major financial transactions of the company. The correspondence in this collection dates to 1926 and revolves around the sampling stage of Teaberry gum production development.  Another material worthy of note is a 1967 procedure manual that contains detailed information regarding the composition and production of various Clark candies.  Clippings taken from Pittsburgh newspapers document both the debates surrounding the closing of the North Side Clark Company Factory and the plans surrounding the factory relocation to O’Hara Township.

Largest Clark Bar at Kennywood Park, 1981

Largest Clark Bar at Kennywood Park, 1981

This collection has been made accessible as part of an NHPRC-funded Basic Processing Grant. For more information on the D. L. Clark Company Records, please see the collection’s finding aid.

Largest Clark Candy Bar being distributed to guests at Kennywood Park, 1981.

Largest Clark Candy Bar being distributed to guests at Kennywood Park, 1981.

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