SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Springfield residents will miss inhaling the sweet smell of chocolate when a longtime candy maker moves most of its production to Missouri.

Pease’s Candy Inc., is moving 75 percent of its candy production to St. Louis after more than 80 years in Illinois, The (Springfield) State Journal-Register reported Saturday.

The recession, high gasoline prices and a series of increases to the state’s minimum wage have hurt the business, Pease’s owner Rob Flesher said. The economy also led to the company’s merger with St. Louis-based candy company Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate Co.

Pease’s three Springfield-based retail outlets will continue as is under the merger, and the remaining production will move to a smaller candy kitchen in a Pease’s retail store, the newspaper reported. The company already closed one Springfield store a little more than a year ago.

The company said some of its 10 production workers are expected to be offered jobs elsewhere in the company.

“Our business is so seasonal, we lay them off in the summer anyway,” Flesher said. “This year, some won’t be called back in the fall.”

Flesher said Pease’s discussed joint production with Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate three years ago, but an agreement could not be reached. The idea was revived when the St. Louis firm planned to open a new production facility in St. Louis.

The 30,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility will be the largest expansion for the company in its 31-year history, said Dan Abel Sr., founder and chief executive of Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate.

But Pease’s fans shouldn’t be too worried.

The candy maker known for its chocolates, caramels and roasted nuts has no plans to change any recipes.

“Nothing is going to change other than the location where the product is made,” Flesher said. “It’s going to look the same, it’s going to taste the same, it’s going to have the same ingredients and the same focus on quality.”

© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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