(Photography & Written By: Jessica Bilich)
Ice cream. Cake. Fries. Cookies. Chips. Everyone gets cravings and has their favorite go-to food to eat, but one of the most classic and popular snack foods to indulge in is chocolate candy. Most people can agree there is such a wide variety of chocolate candy, and it can satisfy both salty and sweet cravings. People consume chocolate candy at any and all times including happy and sad times, on the go, and for special holidays and occasions. What better way to celebrate National Chocolate Candy Day other than celebrating Elmer Chocolate. One of the biggest chocolate candy corporations which was born in Louisiana and was one of the many jobs Zoila “YAYA” Martinez had.
Zoila “YAYA” Martinez was born in Guatemala in 1940. She came to Louisiana when she was only fourteen years old. She went to high school but did not complete it. This did not stop her from the many careers she did successfully pursue and accomplish. She was a Nanny for a now very well-known and successful local lawyer, a maid for a former and high-profiled football doctor, an employee to one of the most loved and local grocery stores that no longer exists, a culinary worker at the most popular fast food chain restaurant, a creative beautician, and a part of Elmer Chocolate history. With the many hats YAYA wore, she was able to provide for her family and succeed in life. She was able to succeed in America.
Elmer Chocolate, originally called Miller Candy Corporation, started in 1855 in New Orleans with Christopher Henry Miller who was a pastry chef. He and his son-in-law Augustus Miller eventually joined forces to form Elmer-Miller. In 1914, Elmer’s sons then created what is now known as Elmer Candy Corporation. In 1963, Roy Nelson bought the enterprise and opened a manufacturing facility in Ponchatoula, LA.
Today, Elmer Chocolate can be found in over one hundred stores and is the second largest heart box manufacturer in the country.
The success of Elmer Chocolate and Zoila “YAYA” Martinez happened in Louisiana because of their hard work and with the help of a sweet dream.