A new type of candy that's being sold nationwide is made exclusively in LaPorte.
American Licorice Co. is making Sour Punch Punchies candy at its 285,000-square-foot factory in La Porte, where the company invested in a $10 million expansion earlier this year.
Since June, Sour Punch Punchies have been sold across the country at stores that include Target, 7-Eleven and Cinemark Theatres. The chewy, soft-shell sour candy comes in five different flavors and retails for between 89 cents for a two-ounce pouch to $3.99 for a 14-ounce bag.
The candy is just the latest spin-off on American Licorice's Sour Punch brand. The company also makes Sour Punch Straws, Bites, Twists and Bits.
Each piece of the new bite-sized candy is stamped with a puckered face.
"Punchies are perfect for the young at heart," said Kristi Shafer, Sour Confections brand manager. "We've taken the whimsical, iconic characters from the Sour Punch brand and brought them to life."
American Licorice, which was founded in Chicago in 1914 and is now headquartered in Bend, Ore., is doing a big marketing push behind the new candy that includes a national cable commercial, an augmented reality game on Facebook and a sweepstakes, spokeswoman Susan Shimotsu said.
About 150 people work at the LaPorte plant, where the company is adding a licorice production line and a new rail spur so it can get its ingredients by train. An estimated 35 more production assistant jobs will be added by 2015.
The candy factory on Whirlpool Drive, also makes other Sour Punch products, Snaps and Super Ropes.