Bill Harmsen

Bill Harmsen

Bill Harmsen was one of the creators of the Jolly Rancher candy.


The Harmsens

Bill Harmsen was born on June 20, 1912 in Saint Paul, Minnesota, and died on April 10, 2002 in Wheat Ridge, Colorado from prostate cancer. Dorothy Harmsen was born on September 13, 1914 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and died on August 29, 2006 of a heart attack At age 91 she died

Jolly Rancher

The couple moved to Denver, Colorado in 1942. In 1949, they opened a candy store in Golden, Colorado called the Jolly Rancher, named after the Jolly Miller, a hotel in their hometown of Minneapolis. Unhappy with local candy suppliers, they decided to make their own candy, which lead to the Jolly Rancher candy. The Harmsens ran a very successful company for almost 21 years before selling to Beatrice Foods in 1966, with Bill Harmsen staying on as president until 1977. The Company was purchased by Hershey in 1996, and Jolly Rancher has become one of America's favorite hard candies with over a dozen flavors and millions sold since their creation.

Life After the Jolly Rancher

After his leaving the business the Harmsens became even more involved in collecting of Western Art. Some of the works included artist such as Alfred Miller, George Catlin, Joseph H. Sharp, Victor Higgins, Frederic Remington, and Robert Henri. They donated land to the Golden Gate Canyon State Park in Colorado. In 2001, the couple donated close to 5,000 pieces of art and American West memorabilia to Denver Art Museum. Bill Harmsen died in 2002 at age of 89 and Dorothy died in 2006 at age 91. They were survived by three children.

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