2015-07-24 / Community News

Sweet, Haven’s hits 100

By Michael Kelley Staff Writer


Matt Carter (left) and Steve Quimby work on a batch of caramel crunch in the production facility of Haven’s Candies on County Road in Westbrook. The candy company, started in Portland, is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. (Michael Kelley photo) Matt Carter (left) and Steve Quimby work on a batch of caramel crunch in the production facility of Haven’s Candies on County Road in Westbrook. The candy company, started in Portland, is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. (Michael Kelley photo) A business with Scarborough connections that started in a private kitchen in Portland is celebrating 100 years of curing Maine’s sweet tooth.

Haven’s Candies, which has had a location in the Gateway Shoppes on Expedition Drive for the last seven years, was started in 1915 by Herbert Haven in the home he lived in on Forest Avenue in Portland.

“It used to be called Haven’s Candy Kitchen because he made all the candies in his kitchen and Mrs. Haven sold the candies out of their front parlor,” said master candy maker Art Dillon, who has been with Haven’s for more than 20 years.

Herbert Haven followed his future wife, Florence Sawyer, to Maine from Massachusetts, where they both had ties to the candy business. Haven’s family ran Haven’s Candy Store in Boston and Sawyer’s father was a chocolate maker.


Herbert Haven Herbert Haven The site of the Havens’ home, now an office building, is two blocks away from 448 Forest Ave., Haven’s Candies’ current Portland location and close by 542 Forest Ave., where Haven’s was headquartered for many years.

In the late 1990s, Haven’s opened a state-of-the-art processing facility and retail store on County Road in Westbrook. In 2008, Haven’s opened a retail store in the Gateway Shoppes, but less than five years later was asked to relocate when Phantom Fireworks moved into the space. They didn’t go far: several storefronts away.

Herbert Haven owned and operated the business until 1949, when it was sold to his accountant, changing hands for the first time in close to 35 years. The business is currently owned by Erin Collins, who purchased it from Andy Charles in September. Charles purchased Haven’s in 2001 from Bill and Molly Webster, who owned it for a decade.

Scarborough residents Shelby and Harris Putnam were also longtime owners of Haven’s. Shelby is still works part-time maintaining Haven’s machinery.

Dillon, a Scarborough resident and past president of the Scarborough Community Chamber of Commerce, said since the Havens sold the company in 1949, subsequent owners have worked hard to continue to improve upon the Haven’s name.

“It hasn’t been owned by the Haven family the whole time, but it has felt like a family-run organization,” Dillon said. “We really stick to our roots with old traditional recipes, good ingredients.”

Collins, Haven’s seventh owner, said it is important to carry on the Haven’s tradition.

“Everything is handmade. There is a lot of TLC that goes into making our candy. We use the same techniques and recipes the Havens used in 1915. That is what makes Haven’s special,” said Collins, whose first introduction to Haven’s was 15 years ago at a secret Santa party at Maine Bank and Trust, where she used to work.

Although Valentine’s Day, Easter and the week between Thanksgiving and Christmas are some of Haven’s peak times of year, producing the candies, chocolates and roasted nuts keeps employees busy year-round. Aside from retail sales, Haven’s also offers customized chocolates to commercial clients and wholesale to gift shops and other retailers.

Dillon said this summer he expects to produce 75,000 pounds of saltwater taffy. In 2014, he estimated Haven’s, which has 28 employees, created 2.4 million pieces of chocolate, including Westbrook dark chocolate. Collins said Haven’s creates approximately 30,000 chocolate Easter bunnies and 30,000 chocolate-dipped strawberries every year.

The dark chocolate, Dillon said, was created about a dozen years ago after two years of experimentation with the company’s chocolate supplier, Cargill Cocoa and Chocolate North America. It may be the only type of chocolate named for a community in Maine.

This fall Haven’s will be busy with centennial celebrations. It will be hosting the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce Business After 5 Thursday, Oct. 22 and honoring its 100th anniversary with a special unveiling of something large and edible at the company’s annual open house Columbus Day weekend.

Haven’s Westbrook location will also be a tour stop during a Retail Confectioners International convention in mid-September.

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