Kenneth R. Glauber, former president of Glauber’s Fine Candies Inc., a family-owned and -operated business that was founded in Baltimore in 1876, died Jan. 22 from congestive heart failure at the Masonic Village in Elizabethtown, Pa. The former longtime Riderwood resident was 88.
“Two of my daughters worked for Kenny at his plant on Regester Avenue,” said Ray Brooks of Towson, a friend for more than 40 years. “He was just a gentle, nice guy who we called the ‘Candy Man.’ He had a big round face and cheeks, and in the wintertime, they would turn red, and he looked just like Santa Claus.”
Kenneth Ralph Glauber was born in Baltimore and raised in a large house on Regester Avenue in Baltimore County’s Idlewylde neighborhood, where the various candies were made.
He was the son of Howard Albert Glauber Sr., president of Glauber’s Fine Candies Inc., and his wife, Miriam Caulk Glauber, who also worked in the business.
As a youngster, he worked in the business that had been founded in 1876 by his grandfather, John Henry Glauber, in a store-front house at 1037 S. Hanover St., and who also had a stall in the nearby Cross Street Market.
“My grandfather John H. Glauber started the business,” Mr. Glauber told the Evening Sun in a 1975 article. “Grandmother helped, too. They made French confections, snow balls and ice cream.”
After the death of his father, Mr. Glauber’s mother, who took over and ran the business, moved it in 1935 to the basement of a home she had purchased on Regester Avenue.
Mr. Glauber, who was a 1948 graduate of Towson High School, earned a bachelor’s degree in business in 1952 from the University of Baltimore.
He served in the Army as a cook from 1953 until 1961 when he was discharged with the rank of private, and returned to Glauber’s Fine Candies, where he eventually was named president.
He joined his mother, who was secretary-treasurer until her death in 1980, his brother, Howard Glauber, who was vice president, until his death in 1995, and sister, Carolyn G. Sibley, who managed one the company’s retail stores. She died in November.
Mr. Glauber was not some aloof executive who sat in an office all day, but could be found out on the line with co-workers operating a small refrigerated conveyor belt, called an envoker, where “he cuts here, adds finishing touches there, as the candy comes down the line,” reported the Evening Sun.
Glauber’s, which became the oldest privately owned candy manufacturer in the nation, according to a 1982 Baltimore Sun article, was known for its hand-dipped butter creams, cherries, raisin clusters and turtles, coconuts and caramels, sponges, jellies and nougats.
At holidays, out of metal molds came chocolate Easter bunnies and rabbits, religious crosses, chicks and turtles and hearts for Valentine’s Day, as well as specialties for Christmas and Halloween.
“The assortment of chocolate rabbits, made at the family factory on Regester Avenue, is extensive,” reported The Sun in 1987. “Standing Rabbits. Sitting Rabbits. Floppy Ear Rabbits. Girl With Rabbit. Twin Rabbits. Hollow Chocolate Rabbit with Carriage. Smooth Rabbit. Even an 18-inch tall Tex Rabbit adorned with red checked bandanna.
“There are candies for animal lovers — chocolate hens, dogs, squirrels, even monkeys. Even car buffs, like the chocolate Corvettes.”
In addition to Cross Street, Glauber’s had stalls in the Lexington and Hollins markets, and expanded to the Yorkridge Shopping Center in Timonium when they opened their first retail store in 1963. Other stores followed at Perring Plaza, Eastpoint, Towson Town Center, Harford and Security malls.
Until opening retail outlets, customers came to the house on Regester Avenue with the wrap-around porch in order to make their purchases.
Dianne Rettburg Biddison, a Towson resident, began working at Glauber’s in 1995 making candy, before taking a job in sales at the company’s Yorkridge store, which she later managed.
“It was just a great job for me. I was a single mom, and we only worked from September, a little after Labor Day, until May, because it was too hot to make chocolate,” Ms. Biddison said. “We would make enough chocolate to last through the summer and to supply our stores.”
Ms. Biddison was one of five women who worked at Regester Avenue.
“Ken was a great boss — he was firm — but it was a very enjoyable job. He was a hard worker and expected that from his employees,” she said.
She recalled coming to work each day and smelling nuts roasting and the luscious aroma of melting chocolate, ingredients that would eventually find their way into molds.
“All of our molds had different names and everything was done all by hand,” she recalled. “We even smelled like chocolate. I went to the doctor one day and he said that I smelled like chocolate and I did. My clothes smelled like chocolate.”
Mr. Glauber had a unique method for keeping production up from the women who were hand-dipping candy.
“On dipping days, he’d put us in separate rooms in order to cut down on the chit-chat,” she said, with a laugh. “Ken wanted to make sure we got our work done.”
Molly A. Cook, a granddaughter, who began learning how to make chocolate such as bark and brittle when she was 5 years old with her grandfather, became a professional candy maker..
“We would use the antique molds and he was excited to see them being used again,” said Ms. Cook of Candle, N.C., who was named Chocolatier of the Year in 2015 by Atlanta Pastry Live.
“He had an outgoing personality and was happy and smiling and always loved talking about chocolate,” she said.
A daughter, Laura A. Glauber of Bel Air, said her father ate a 1-pound box of his candies every day.
“His favorites were caramels and vanilla butter creams,” she said.
In 2002, Mr. Glauber sold the business to Ruxton Chocolates and retired.
Mr. Glauber enjoyed woodworking and home improvement projects when he lived in the Village Green neighborhood of Riderwood. Since 2009, he had lived in Elizabethtown.
“I never saw Ken mad,” Mr. Brooks said. “Everyone who knew Kenny couldn’t say a bad thing about him.”
Mr. Glauber had been a longtime communicant of the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd, Boyce and Carrollton avenues, Ruxton, where a memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Feb. 23.