My subscription to Life expired, but I still have a subscription to Mad.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

another local fun factory goes bye-bye

I was born and raised in Waterbury, CT, which was a big factory town just like most of the towns up and down the Naugatuck Valley.

Most of the factories were of no interest to a kid including me, but there were two local factories that I always considered "fun factories," not because they were fun to work at, but because of the products they produced.

Eastern Color Printing Company in Waterbury invented the comic book and my father was a pressman there all his working life. Most days, he brought home a handful of comic books and Sunday funny papers that Eastern Color had printed that day. I saved a lot of the comic books. Many would be considered collector items like the first issues of Spiderman, Fantastic Four, Thor, X-Men, Submariner, Captain America, etc., etc., except that the books my Dad brought home were coverless. The covers were printed and stapeled to the guts of the comic book at another plant located in Meriden, CT. Even coverless, some of the first issues I have are worth a few bucks, but not as much as they would have been worth if my father had worked at the Meriden plant!

I worked a few summers at Eastern Color in the late 1960s, which was just about the time they got out of the comic book business and finally moved out of Waterbury. (By the way, it was no fun working in that "fun factory." The pay was very good - union wages - but the working conditions were terrible.)

The other local "fun factory" was Peter Paul in Naugatuck, CT, which produced my favorite candies: Mounds and Almond Joy*. Whenever we drove by the Peter Paul plant on Route 63, I would smile and smack my lips when I saw the big Mounds and Almond Joy logos emblazoned on the side of the building. Evidently, Peter Paul gave factory tours, but I never had the opportunity to take one and in retrospect, I am glad I did not after having seen the inside of the other fun factory.

Well, yesterday, Hershey, the current owner of Peter Paul, announced that they are closing the Naugatuck plant and moving the Mounds and Almond Joy production to Virginia. That news made me sad and I am sure there is no joy in the homes of the 200 workers at Peter Paul who will be out of work.

Hershey has a history of screwing things up in Connecticut. They bought Lake Compounce, the oldest amusement park in the USA, which happens to be located at the bottom of the hill on which I live, and ran it into the ground and now this! Next thing you know, they will replace the almond on Almond Joy with a peanut.

And so it goes.

* Mounds and Almond Joy were always my favorite candies. Mounds is a coconut bar covered with dark chocolate, while Almond Joy is a coconut bar with an almond on top covered in milk chocolate. (Some times I felt like an almond, some times I didn't.)

All my life, I was a proponent of a dark chocolate version of Almond Joy. Well, about five years or so ago, I was in the check-out line of a local K-Mart perusing the candy display and. lo and behold, I noticed a special edition of Almond Joy: a dark chocolate version. I bought a handful and am sorry that I did not buy them all because they were delicious (just as I thought they would be) and I never saw that special edition for sale again.

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