In 1855 Christopher Miller settled in New Orleans and started the Miller Candy Company. After many successful years, Miller turned the company over to his son-in-law Augustus Elmer. Augustus changed the name to Elmer Miller Candy and moved to Magazine Street in New Orleans. Augustus’ five sons, who would eventually take control of the company, expanded the product line and changed the name to Elmer Candy Corporation.
The five brothers invented a new product — the cheese curl. The curls, which were originally manufactured and sold as corn curls, were eventually flavored with cheese and became a very big seller for the company. The brothers also came up with many new candy products such as Mint Bubblets, Heavenly Hash and Gold Brick Candy.
In 1936 the sales manager for Elmer’s, Morel M. Elmer, Sr., decided to hold a contest in New Orleans to give this successful product a name. The winning name CheeWees is still being used today. In 1946 his son, Morel M. Elmer, Jr., decided to capitalize on the product’s success. He started a new company which eventually he named, Elmer's Fine Foods. He began to package "Chee Wees" in cellophane bags rather than cans.
In 1963 the five sons of Augustus Elmer decided to sell the Elmer Candy Corporation. This sale included everything, even the trademark names of the products. CheeWees was one of these trademarked names, Elmer’s Fine Foods lost the ability to use this name. For the next 25 years, Elmer’s Fine Foods continued to sell their famous cheese curl product using such names as Chee-T’s and Chee-Z-Snax.
In 1984 Alan Elmer, Sr. (son of Morel, Jr.) entered the business and began increasing sales and modernizing the company. Alan dreamed of the day when he could once again use his grandfather’s trademarked CheeWees name. In the mid 1980s Alan added new equipment, updated product packaging and began to sell new products. Then in 1993 he purchased the naming rights from the Elmer Candy Corporation and began selling CheeWees.
In 2005, New Orleans was devastated by Hurricane Katrina. The storm’s 100 MPH winds and subsequent 10' flood waters destroyed the entire Port Street facility where CheeWees are produced. It took approximately 16 months to rebuild the facility and replace all the machinery and equipment used in the plant. During this time Elmer’s Fine Foods was closed and unable to produce any of it’s delicious snack foods. In January of 2007, the business re-opened and the company web site was launched. Now people everywhere are once again enjoying Elmer’s CheeWees—one of New Orleans traditional favorites.
Today, Alan, Stephen, and Paul Elmer are the fifth generation of the Elmer family to work in the food manufacturing business in New Orleans. They produce CheeWees using the same quality standards that their grandfather used over 70 years ago. CheeWees are sold throughout Louisiana and Mississippi and sales are expanding into additional southern states.