We discovered an interesting urban story on a walk we took this past weekend, down Columbia Street in Cambridge map… the famous Squirrel Brand candy and nut company factory, made famous by 90’s swing-revivalists Squirrel Nut Zippers, (don’t let that turn you off).
After decades of production, the company moved on, but the city and community stepped in and converted the building and grounds to affordable housing:
The Squirrel Brand building had to be gutted. Its 132 6-by-8-foot windows, 12.5-foot ceilings, and wood floors had been saturated by more than eight decades of molasses steam. Just-A-Start officials estimate a cost of $6 million to renovate the factory and two smaller buildings the organization purchased nearby. But they say they remain committed to saving the building rather than leveling it.
Also, I had no idea just how much candy was manufactured here… Necco, Tootsie-Roll, Squirrel Brand:
In 1928, at the height of an era when Cambridge produced most of the treats that satisfied the nation’s sugar craving, 32 confectionary manufacturers flourished within the city limits. They took ships’ holds full of sugar or molasses from the West Indies and turned it into gooey, sticky, and chocolatey treats.
Unfortunately, only a Tootsie subsidiary remains on Main Street…