The company began in 1948 with a man, R.M. Palmer, and a vision. He began with just four products, three of which included a cheerful family of chocolate rabbits named Baby Binks, Bunny Binks, and Daddy Binks. Palmer went door-to-door visiting five-and-dime stores and other retailers peddling his Bink family of chocolate rabbits. One particular chain came back with a $20,000 order for Easter, which as you can imagine was a large order in 1948! This order put Palmer on the map and on the path to success.
The company continued to grow and expand from four employees and four product offerings to the 850 employees and over 500 products they had at the time of the accident. It is interesting to note that many operations at the plant were still being done by hand such as the tiny satin bows tied around the bunnies’ necks as well as the hand applied icing decorations.
When reading about the hand work still being done at Palmer, my thoughts immediately went to Asher’s Chocolate Factory right here in Lewistown. I pictured my experiences touring the plant and watching many of their products still being produced by hand. I thought about how many employees I know by name who work in production and at the factory store. It all became very personal to me. How would my community be handling such a tragedy. What impact would it have on all of us? Just as Asher’s has been such an integral part of our community, Palmer has equally been a part of theirs.
I was pleased to learn that we are not helpless in this tragic situation, there are ways that we can rally around them and help. One way we can assist this struggling community came across my desk from the Greater Reading Chamber Alliance. The community of West Reading and Berks County has come together to support those affected by this tragedy through the West Reading Disaster Recovery Fund. This fund is to support the families of those they have lost and the other employees currently impacted. You can donate online at www.bccf.org or by mailing a check to Berks County Community Foundation, 237 Court Street, Reading, PA 19601 and noting the West Reading Disaster Recovery Fund in the memo line.
Anyone who knows me knows that I am a huge advocate of shopping local and supporting our small businesses. That said, please stop by and support Asher’s Chocolates this Easter season, but perhaps in addition you could keep you eye open for R.M. Palmer Chocolate Binks Bunnies as well as other Palmer products to purchase. They can be found at many local retailers such as CVS, Dollar General, Dollar Tree, GIANT, Walmart, and Weis.
This article started out very different as I began formulating it in my mind. It was going to be filled with lots of fun and interesting Easter traditions and facts such as how many Peeps we consume each spring (it is more than 1.5 billion by the way), but quickly turned to one of reaching out a helping hand to those who are in need and hurting this Easter season. I believe this to be apropos, for Isn’t that what Easter is truly about? The celebration of new beginnings and of someone who is remembered for the giving of the ultimate gift to make this life and the one hereafter better for all.
Rhonda S. Kelley, Executive Director
Juniata River Valley Chamber of Commerce