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La Crosse County Historical Society discovers, collects, preserves, and shares the history of La Crosse County, Wisconsin.

Object Record

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Object Name Box
Catalog Number 1991.035.07
Description Lightweight wooden hinged box, carved and strained wood burning technique. Carved with roses, on front: "Funke's Chocolates", on bottom: "Made by the Pyrographart Co. Joneston, Illinois", held by small tacks and brass hinge.
Other Name Chocolate Box
Collection La Crosse County Historical Society Collection
Year Range from 1920
Year Range to 1929
Made By Pyrographart Co. Joneston, Illinois
Material Wood
Dimensions H-2 W-2.75 L-6 inches
Length (in) 6
Height (in) 2
Width (in) 2.75
Search Terms Funke's Candy
Food Processing
Chocolate
Featured in Things that Matter
Notes Featured in Things that Matter

"La Crosse was one sweet town in the early twentieth century. It boasted three candy factories by the 1920s, the biggest of which was Joseph B. Funke Candy Company, at the corner of State and Front Streets. With elaborate packaging such as this wood-burned box, it’s no wonder that Funke chocolates were well-known in this part of the country.

Joseph B. Funke, a first-generation American born in Minnesota to German-born parents, incorporated his fledgling candy company in 1890, and built a state-of-the-art plant for it in 1898. Hundreds of La Crosse residents, and particularly young women seeking economic opportunities, worked at the Funke Candy Company until it closed in 1933.

All was not smooth sailing for the Funke Candy Company. In the summer of 1900, for instance, the company “had a little trouble with some of their employees,” according to the La Crosse Tribune and Leader-Press, and 25 employees walked out. But business was brisk enough that by 1920, company president Joseph Funke could afford to live at 1419 Cass St., now popularly known as “The Castle.”

In a matter of days, the Funke Candy Company building will reopen as The Charmant Hotel, so named for Funke’s premiere line, the “Charmant Chocolates.” One wonders if visitors will receive locally made chocolates on their pillows?"

This article was originally published in the La Crosse Tribune.
Title: Funke box of chocolates
Author: Caroline C. Morris
Publish Date: September 12, 2015

"The Joseph B. Funke Candy Company began in 1880 when J. Schreiber and M. Kratchwil entered into the candy making business. In 1882 Kratchwil withdrew and two years later Joseph B. Funke formed a partnership with Schreiber. The operation was located at the end of Main Street and it employed just a few men in the early days. Funke bought out Schreiber's part in 1887 and three years later the business was incorporated as the Joseph B. Funke Company. The facility moved to larger quarters on Second Street, between Main and Pearl, and Funke became one of the largest employers in La Crosse. Expansion continued and a new factory was built in 1898 on the site where Nathan Myrick constructed the first log cabin in La Crosse in 1842. The company pioneered many processes dealing with the manufacture of chocolates and had to overcome problems such as the lack of cooling mechanisms. In 1927 the chocolates were still dipped by hand because the machinery method, according to company officials, produced chocolates of lesser quality. The factory closed in 1933."

Information from: La Crosse Public Library Archives
Website: https://archives.lacrosselibrary.org/collections/businesses/mss-022/
Title: Guide to the Historic Commercial La Crosse, Wisconsin Slides, circa 1890-1917
Accessed 06/23/2017