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LAMMES CANDIES

LAMMES CANDIES. Lammes Candies, headquartered in Austin, is a family-run confectionery and one of the oldest continuously run businesses in that city. The company was founded by David T. Lamme, Sr., the son of William Wirt Lamme and the grandson of an early St. Louis merchant. Lamme was born in 1864 in Buffalo, New York, and raised in Columbia, Missouri. His father arrived in Austin by 1876 and opened a candy store at 721 Congress Avenue, and later another on Seventh Street. The young Lamme began selling barbed wire in the 1880s, but returned to Austin and opened his first candy shop at Eighth and Congress in 1885. Two years later he moved to 919 Congress, where he established the Red Front Candy Shop and lived in an apartment above the store. He came to be known for his "Gem" ice cream, a concoction of sherbet and ice cream; for wrapping individual candies with verses inside; and for the chewy pecan pralines he invented in 1895, using pecans from the trees along the Colorado River. Customers of the candy store strolled up Congress Avenue to the grounds of the Capitol. The firm also produced ribbon candy and, after the introduction of air-conditioning, chocolates. Lamme acquired ice from manufacturer Andrew Zilker, for whom Zilker Park was later named, and in 1899 introduced the first machine using ammonia refrigeration in the city. In time he also participated in the German Pickwick Dancing Club.

To clarify the pronunciation of his name, Lamme introduced the lamb logo by which the company is still known, and later acquired the first neon sign in Austin. Mail-order business began in 1937. During World War II the company stopped making ice cream because of sugar rationing. After Lamme's death in 1948, the company continued to be managed by members of his family, the fifth generation of which ran the firm in 1994. Growing competition between ice-cream manufacturers between 1955 and 1965 weighed against any company effort to reenter that business, however, and thereafter the company focused entirely on candy. By the 1970s, Lammes distributed preservative-free candy throughout the fifty states and reached customers worldwide by mail order. The company produced up to a million pounds a year of caramels, hard candy, fudge, taffy, chocolates, and pralines; of this total production, mail orders accounted for 12 percent of the company's business, and wholesaling to department stores like Neiman-Marcus, some 28 percent of its business. Lammes also operated four retail outlets in Austin. By the 1990s Lammes received roughly 100,000 pounds of chocolate annually from its New Jersey supplier, along with 175,000 pounds of pecans from San Saba, Texas. The firm employed almost ninety workers, had accounts throughout the United States, and operated eight retail stores in Texas.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Austin History Center Files.

Diana J. Kleiner

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Diana J. Kleiner, "LAMMES CANDIES," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/dilya), accessed July 25, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.