The Old Dominion peanut company was founded in 1913 by the Worsham Family. The company started out as a general line candy manufacturer producing peanut butter, caramel, and various forms of peanut candy, taffy, fudge, hard sugar candies and peanut brittle.
Over the course of two generations, the Worsham’s would experiment with many types of candy products some of which were successful and others not. However, peanut brittle would become a mainstream product they could count on especially during the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons. At that time peanut brittle was mostly seasonal to the holidays with little year- round business causing the company to look for other product types for year- round sales.
In 1963, the sales manager for the company, Townsend Brown, gained control of the company. Mr. Brown also experimented with new products and as did his predecessors, saw that peanut brittle was very popular and could be counted on for big holiday sales. In 1993, ownership of the company passed to his son Tim Brown. Tim Brown slimmed down the product line, concentrating on brittle and peanut candy. He then exited the fudge business and a few years later began producing butter toffee peanuts. Mr. Brown brought the company to realize its core competencies, and he developed the business from there.
In 2004 the company was purchased by the Virginia Food Group, a holding company founded by candy and food industry veterans Bill Del Chiaro and Peter Pruden. Del Chiaro grew up in the food business with Procter and Gamble, Sara Lee corporation and spent ten years with Mars Incorporated ( candy giant…Snickers, M & M s ), where he held several Vice Presidencies in sales & marketing before going off to become C.E.O. of a few smaller privately held companies. . Pruden, a banker by training, also ran his family ham business, selling it to The Smithfield Companies, where he managed several of their divisions until they sold to Smithfield Foods, the worlds largest pork producers. Del Chiaro is the C.E.O of Old Dominion, while Pruden chairs the Board of Directors.
Since 2004, the company has launched a new product line called Master Pieces, introduced new products such as Dipped Toffee peanuts, Burnt Sugar Pecans, and Toasted Honey Cashews. The company has also revamped its entire packaging on both the Old Dominion and Master Pieces Lines, producing and selling product in bags, boxes, cans and bulk.
In 2007, the company exited the “hard candy” business, also known as Christmas candy while maintaining it’s push through new trade classes, on peanut brittle, peanut candy ( break and eat candy ) it’s choco dipped brittle, double dipped peanuts, butter toffee peanuts, burnt sugar pecans, toasted honey cashews and peco flakes ( coconut peanut candy ).
In October of 2007, during the height of the holiday season, the company suffered a major fire. The production facilities housing the peanut brittle and peanut candy lines caught fire and the roof collapsed in the portion of the building where those products were made and packaged. Most of the associated inventory was rendered unsalable.
It took five months to rebuild and modernize that facility. During that time all of the company’s major customers stuck by them, and reordered when the facility opened again mid March of 08. During the rebuilding the company also continued to gain new business pending its reopening.
The company remains the largest producer and seller of peanut brittle in the United States by a substantial margin. The company has continued its mission of branded sales and has significantly increased its branded business in some of the countries largest and most well known retailers, coast to coast.In 2009, the company operates out of its seven buildings in Norfolk, Virginia. The company continues in it’s mission of providing great tasting, fresh peanut candy that is wholesome, portable and sharable, always striving to be a low cost producer so we may offer superior value for money to our customers and consumers.