BUFFALO, N.Y (WIVB) — Many things come to mind when people think of Buffalo. The Bills, the wings, the people, and of course, sponge candy is on the list.

Sept. 21 is the national holiday celebrating the candy, and on Wake-Up, we visited Fowler’s Chocolate Factory to learn how it’s made from John Agnello, Operations Manager, and Bob Wachowski, the Head Candy Maker at the Factory.

The combination of corn syrup, sugar, water, baking soda, gelatin, and of course, chocolate. A recipe that Fowler’s Chocolates has shared as a staple in the Western New York community and the world for decades.

“As far as I know, through the grapevine, Fowler’s is credited with inventing sponge candy. There’s no real documentation from anywhere else that says where this really cool Western New York staple originated so we run with that title,” said John Agnello, Operations Manager of Fowler’s Chocolates. “So we run with that title and we’re proud of it as Western New York’s oldest chocolatier.”

14 batches of the candy are made everyday–but their head candy maker, Bob, has spent the last 22 years mastering the technique.

“Sponge candy starts with sugar, water, and corn syrup. We boil it to a certain temperature, let it cool down, once it gets down to the magic temperature, we beat in gelatin, and baking soda,” said Bob Wachowski. “Let it rise up in the kettle, we’ll burn it on the stove for a minute to release it on the kettle, and then pour it in the form. It takes about 24 hours before we can cut it.”

During their busy season, five to seven hundred pounds of sponge candy take a ride down the conveyor belt every single day, and during the month of September, they’re helping give back to our community with every bite sold.

“If you buy two half pounds or if you buy one half pound and somebody else buys a half pound, it all adds up to a dollar for every pound of sponge candy that we sell in the entire month of September is going to be donated to FeedMore WNY,” said Agnello.

Sponge candy is connecting the two Buffalo born organizations together for a sweet deal. Along with the donations–they’re holding food drives at the storefronts–offering customers a ten percent discount if they donate non-perishable food items. An initiative that connects the community with a treat, but also a way to help others in the “City of Good Neighbors” who face the challenges food insecurity.

“Some of the challenges we hear right now from the people that are relying on FeedMore assistance is taking touch choices in terms of the winter weather approaching.” said Catherine Shick, Public Relations Manager of FeedMore WNY. “You may be spending more resources to hear your home, to keep the lights on your home, we know that the cost of living is still high so you’re always facing tough choices, like ‘Do I put gas in my car so I can get to my job or do I use those resources to purchase food for my family.'”

So whether your favorite flavor is milk, dark, orange or even this year’s limited addition flavor–pumpkin spice, picking up a box will help pay the sweetness forward.

“It’s a great way to give yourself a little treat but also know you’re supporting a great cause,” said Shick.

If you would like to find out more information on Sponge Candy visit Fowler’s website here. If you would like to learn more about FeedMore WNY, visit their website here.

Hope Winter is a reporter and multimedia journalist who has been part of the News 4 team since 2021. See more of her work here.