A Candyman and His Marks
I heard on the radio recently that Nello Ferrara, the creator of Lemonheads and Atomic Fire Balls candy, died earlier this year at the age of 93. The mention of Lemonheads brought back childhood memories of my sisters and I riding our bikes to the local convenience store to buy Ferrara’s candy, which came in little boxes and – if I remember right – put us back a whopping 10 cents per box.
The news of Mr. Ferrara’s passing and the sudden surge of childhood memories encouraged me to do a little research on Ferrara’s company. According to the New York Times, the Illinois-based Ferrara Pan company was started in 1908, and Nello took it over from his father decades ago. Nello’s son, Salvatore Ferrara, is the company’s current president and CEO. Salvatore claims that his head was shaped like a lemon when he was born, inspiring his father to invent the Lemonhead candy. The full New York Times article can be found here.
Regardless of the inspiration, a quick search reveals that the Ferrara Pan company has a track record of protecting the names the company has given its products over the years. The company has filed over 250 trademark applications, one of the first being filed in December of 1954 for the “ATOMIC FIRE BALL” mark. The mark for “LEMONHEAD” came in April of 1963. One registration that I was particularly excited to see was the November 1975 registration for “ALEXANDER THE GRAPE,” which is associated with my favorite Ferrara candy (although it appears this candy may now go by the name “GRAPEHEAD,” registration for which was filed in 1996).
Over the years, the company has expanded the reach of its marks beyond candy, filing applications for marks associated with everying from body lotion and lip balm, to clothing, to alcoholic beverages. Many of these marks have since been abandoned, but the company does sell clothing bearing the company’s marks on its website. It is clear, though, that candy is still the company’s main focus: it reportedly produces 135 million pounds of candy per year (using 200,000 pounds of sugar per day).