A Family of Smarties Keeps This Company Sweet

Edward Dee founded a candy company in Bloomfield 67 years ago to make sweets called Smarties. Today, Dee's three granddaughters run the business.

The Dee family–sisters Jessica Dee Sawyer and Liz Dee and cousin Sarah Dee–operate Smarties, the candy company founded by their granddad Edward Dee.
The Dee family–sisters Jessica Dee Sawyer and Liz Dee and cousin Sarah Dee–operate Smarties, the candy company founded by their granddad Edward Dee.
Photo by Jennifer Pottheiser

If you look into any Halloween bag, chances are you’ll see a roll of Smarties candy among the trick-or-treat goodies.

Smarties were created 67 years ago when English immigrant Edward Dee founded Ce De Candy, Inc. in Bloomfield and set about catering to America’s sweet tooth. “I came to the United States to open a candy factory,” says Edward, 92, the son of a candy-making family. “I got started with two tablet machines, two wrapping machines and five employees.”

The Cambridge University graduate named his candy Smarties to encourage people to pursue education. Sons Jonathan and Michael joined the business in the 1970s.

“It started out as a job,” says Michael, “but somewhere along the way, we began to see ourselves as responsible for an icon.”

In 2011, Ce De Candy, Inc. became Smarties Candy Company. It has been based in the same Union facility for 49 years. Now chairman of the board, Edward leaves day-to-day operations to granddaughters Liz Dee, Sarah Dee and Jessica Dee Sawyer. But that doesn’t mean Edward is resting on his sweet laurels. “He still comes into the office nearly every day,” says Liz.

The third generation has “modernized the business,” says Sarah. But the ingredients in Smarties have for the most part remained the same. “The experience that your grandparents had eating Smarties,” says Liz, “is the same as the experience that you would have today.”

Original Smarties come in six fruity flavors and colors. There are also three newer varieties: X-Treme Sour, Tropical and Smarties ’n Creme.

As for the future, Jessica, who has a daughter and a newborn son, says she hopes Smarties will someday be a fourth-generation business.

Read more Eat & Drink, Jersey Celebrities articles.

By submitting comments you grant permission for all or part of those comments to appear in the print edition of New Jersey Monthly.

Comments (3)

Required not shown
Required not shown

  1. Joey Tillman

    They could so much more buisness if the sales department cared about other business besides Walmart.

    • J___T

      I find them at Target, though not only is it the bottom shelf but often other brands have fallen in front of it…accidentally? It’s happened so often in the past year that they’re obscured that I’m beginning to think some rival candy company’s operatives may be to blame.

  2. J___T

    Smarties have recently become my favorite guilty-pleasure sweet treat! I remembered them as a favorite from trick-or-treating as a kid and picked some up to give out last Halloween. When hardly anyone came by, I wound up enjoying them so much that I find myself picking up a bag every couple of months! Great to know it’s a family-run business. Continued success to them.