Carl Goldenberg, 85, whose last name was as familiar to chocoholics as it was to those who appreciated a good success story, died Oct. 14.
The third-generation scion of a family that made Peanut Chews, a chocolate/molasses/peanut confectionery icon, first in hometown Philadelphia and then throughout the country, Goldenberg got into the business after graduating from Penn State as an economics major.
He applied what he learned in college to the business, with the famous candy company headquartered in Kensington before heading over to Feltonville and then the Northeast. Ten years ago, the family sold the firm, whose product once was a ration staple for World War I soldiers. According to his wife of 60 years, he was heartbroken over the sale. “He felt terrible after the company was sold; he was weaned on it,” said Barbara Goldenberg.
He had been, in a way, the molasses that had helped keep the chocolate company going for so long — which, for a time, also made other candies but focused only on Peanut Chews since 1949. “He would work six days, up to 60 hours a week,” she recalled.
“Most of his life was encompassed by it,” without complaint. Not that he didn’t have time for other pursuits. Family, she said, was of utmost importance to him and he had a passion for golf.
But mostly it was all about chocolate. “He never got sick of Peanut Chews,” avowed his wife. “And he never got tired of chocolate. He loved food.”
Residents of Center City for the past 33 years, the couple enjoyed their weekend tradition of going to Bookbinder’s in Old City for lunch and then heading over to the Ritz Five for a movie.
A past president of the National Confectioners Association and the Philadelphia branch as well, Goldenberg attracted fans and friends from all over the country. At a memorial service held at Congregation Rodeph Shalom in Center City, his wife reported, some 300 people attended to show their respect, a crowd that included friends from the Joyva Halvah company as well as long-ago frat brothers from Beta Sigma Rho.
An Air Force lieutenant who served in the Korean War, Goldenberg never had a bad word to say about the competition. That’s because, said his wife, he didn’t see any other candy product as a competitor. “He thought his was the best,” she said.
Reflecting his passion for music “of all kinds,” his wife recalled his last Friday, ill in bed from prostate cancer, surrounded by his family, with son Sam and granddaughter Jennifer — Sam’s daughter — playing guitar with the family patriarch listening to their renditions of Simon and Garfunkel.
“He was a kind and caring man who loved his family,” Barbara said of the man she called "as sweet as his chocolate.”
Besides his wife and son Samuel, he is survived by son David, who was the last Goldenberg to run the company; a sister, Ellen Greenspan; a brother, Edgar; and five grandchildren.