Nestle's Sweet History in Fulton
FULTON, N.Y. -- When you go to the grocery store it's hard to look down any aisle without seeing a Nestle product. But, before chocolate morsels and Nesquik went worldwide, they got their start in a small Oswego County city.
"Every Halloween, the kids in this town made out great,” said Fulton Mayor Ronald Woodward.
That's what happens when your hometown is Fulton, New York, the birthplace of Nestle.
"In the late 1800s, a man by the name of Mr. Nestle started the company. It wasn't the chocolate. It was a milk company,” said Sue Lane, the executive secretary of Friends of History in Fulton.
But it wasn't long before Nestle encouraged three Swiss chocolatiers, one of them named Daniel Peter, to join him in Fulton and market a brand-new product.
"Story goes that Daniel Peter invented milk chocolate,” said Woodward. “Now, Milton Hershey would tell you that he did. But that's the story."
From there, Nestle grew. At its height, the Fulton factory employed 1,500 people. Even the mayor worked there for 17 years, right up until the factory closed in 2003.
"There [were] very few people in Fulton that you could talk to that didn't either work there or have family members that worked there,” Woodward said. “That was the kind of place where you could graduate from high school, go to work there, and stay there until you retired, and a lot of families did."
This is the birthplace of so many Nestle favorites, like chocolate morsels, Nesquik and even the Crunch bar. Although locals do say that one crispy classic hasn't been the same since the factory closed down.
"If you remember the Crunch bar when it was made here, it was just yummy good,” Lane said. “And now, eh, it's all right, but it's not as crisp and as crunchy as it used to be."
But their memories are as sweet as ever.
Most of the production from the Fulton plant was moved to South America when it closed. Plans to re-use the site have come and gone over the years. But demolition is now underway, with something other than chocolate to soon take its place.