Karrie Jacobs


June 20, 2008

The Mysteries of Times Square, Part II

Wednesday afternoon on W. 48th St.

I had lunch near Times Square on Wednesday with a trio of magazine editors who, like everyone in the business, were feeling acutely uneasy about their futures. Their unease made me nervous, too. Afterward, I was walking south on Broadway, crossing 48th Street, and someone yelled, “Hey, look out!”  I jumped. I swung around. And what I saw were a couple of workmen almost lose control of a giant York Peppermint Pattie. They were loading it onto a flatbed truck.

Clearly, the jumbo candy had been removed from the sign above the Hershey’s store, but later, when I did a quick web search to find a reason, expecting Google to cough up a press release about new, improved packaging, I learned that York Peppermint Patties have lately become minor political symbol. The candy, named for the Pennsylvania city where they were originally manufactured, has, in recent years, been produced in a Hershey’s facility in nearby Reading, PA. But this year, Pattie-making is being outsourced, possibly to Mexico.

Here’s York Daily Record columnist Mike Argento on the situation:

I talked to a guy named Kirk Saville…

He said the company is not announcing specifics as “we implement our supply-chain transition.” “Supply-chain transition” apparently means closing plants and throwing people out of work.

York Peppermint Patties could be made, he said, at an existing Hershey plant, “one of our manufacturing partners” or at Monterrey.

Monterrey is in Mexico. Hershey’s “manufacturing partners,” I suppose, could be one of the other overseas contractors making chocolate for the American icon.

So there’s a good chance that York Peppermint Patties will be made in Mexico, or India, or China.

Are you ready for Mumbai Peppermint Patties?

And here, from the Washington Post, April 13, 2008, is how the humble York Peppermint Pattie found its way into presidential politics:

James P. Hoffa stood outside the brick Hershey candy factory here one day last week and tried to sell Sen. Barack Obama to a cluster of Teamsters who are losing their jobs because the company is going to start making the York peppermint pattie in Mexico…

Is a little political grand-standing enough to exile a candy from Times Square? Has the cool York Peppermint Pattie become a hot potato, a symbol of job losses in tough times? Or are they just refurbishing the sign?

Are you ready for NAFTA Patties?

Also: read The Mysteries of Times Square, Part I

Confidential to Tim Tompkins: So, when is that TKTs booth going to be done?