Salem Massachusetts’ Ye Olde Pepper Candy Companie is the first American candy store, and longest standing. The shingled butter yellow shop sits in the same location it first began in back in 1806.
Ye Olde Pepper Candy Companie is home of the famous Salem Gibralter and Blackjacks candies. These two Salem-specific candies are extremely hard to find, but the shop still sells them following their original recipe.
These rare candies have a unique origin story. “The Gibralter… was a white and delicate candy, flavored with lemon or peppermint, soft as cream at one stage of its existence, but capable of hardening into a consistency so stony and so unutterably flinty-hearted that it is almost a libel upon the rock whose name it bears. The Gibralter is the aristocrat of Salem confectionery.”
The Blackjacks, made from a deliberately burnt maple syrup, butter, brown sugar, and molasses, were created to offer a candy opposite the “dainty” Salem Gibralter. They were the first stick-shaped candy ever commercialized in America. According to Salem’s food history:
There were various origin stories about the “Salem Gibraltar” one about Mary Spencer surviving a shipwreck, being gifted sugar and creating Gibralters. Another involved her son Thomas Spencer who arrived about 1820 and was given the recipe. The candy was sold by his mother to local shops and from a wagon. After she died, Thomas sold the business and recipe to John Pepper and returned to England where he had inherited land. Pepper sold his shop circa 1900 to George Burkinshaw, whose family still runs Ye Old Pepper Companie.
The shop remains incredibly popular to this day, now at 217-years-old. In addition to the famous Gibralter and Blackjacks you’ll find fudge, taffies, caramels, and a plethora of other nostalgic treats! It’s a great shop to pick up a gift any time of year!
Find the Ye Olde Pepper Companie at 122 Derby St. Salem, MA 01970
Monday- Saturday 9 AM-5 PM
Sunday 11 AM- 4 PM