What chocolate candy factory exploded in Pennsylvania?

Eve Edwards

A chocolate candy factory exploded in Pennsylvania leaving multiple people injured and three dead – but what led to the major eruption and where did it occur?

Shocking footage of the explosion, which occurred Friday afternoon (March 24, 2023), surfaced showing the extent of the damage to the chocolate factory.

Over Friday and into the weekend, emergency services have been attempting to clear the scene as well as locate and rescue missing individuals. Four people are unaccounted for after the explosion with fears that the death toll will climb higher than three. At least eight individuals are being treated for injuries in hospital.

Questions about how such an accident could occur are now being brought forth. As of yet, a cause for the explosion is unknown and is currently under investigation.

Photo by Tim Leedy 12/14/07R.M. Palmer Company in West Reading.
Photo By Tim Leedy/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images

What candy factory exploded in Pennsylvania?

The candy factory in question was the R.M. Palmer Company site in West Reading, Pennsylvania. It is located in the center, on South Second Avenue. Residents in the area reported that their homes shook after Friday’s explosion, with people affected two blocks away.

This site has been a major part of the West Reading community for over 60 years. Locals have worked at this factory over the decades, producing their seasonal chocolate novelties. There are currently 850 employees involved in the operation.

The R.M. Palmer Company was founded in 1948. It was originally launched from a warehouse in Sinking Spring, Pennsylvania before moving to North 11th Street in Reading. R.M. Palmer Co has been based in its current location in West Reading since 1959.

Pennsylvania is at the heart of American chocolate history

Pennsylvania has long been considered the home of chocolate manufacturing in America as the Keystone State is also where Hershey’s was founded. The iconic chocolate brand was established by Milton Hershey in 1894 in what was then known as Lancaster, Pennsylvania. It became a town named after Hershey in 1903, founded as a community for the workers in the Hershey factory.

Many chocolatiers have been drawn to the state. Some of Pennsylvania’s notable candy brands besides Hershey’s and R.M. Palmer include Frederic Loraschi Chocolate, Bevan’s Own Make Candy, and Éclat Chocolate.

R.M. Palmer give statement after candy factory exploded

“We have lost close friends and colleagues,” a statement posted to the R.M. Palmer website and Facebook page reads. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of all who have been impacted.

“We are anxious to be in touch with all employees and the families of employees who have been impacted, but the company’s email, phones, and other communication systems are down, and therefore we are relying currently on first responders and disaster recovery organizations to provide any available information to impacted families.”

No further statement has been given as the cause of the factory explosion remains under investigation.

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