For Russell Stover, life really is a box of chocolates. As the largest maker of boxed chocolates in the US, its Whitman Sampler and other boxed candies are its bread and butter and recognizable by most moms. Russell Stover also sells hard candies and jellies that are bagged or individually wrapped, as well as sugar-free candy, such as its sugarless version of Pangburn's Millionaires. The firm's candies are sold by 70,000-plus retail outlets in all 50 US states and Puerto Rico, and in more than 20 other countries, including Canada and the UK. Russell Stover also operates some 40 Russell Stover Candies retail shops and kiosks in the US and Canada. Co-presidents and brothers Tom and Scott Ward own the company.
Faced with growing competition as larger rivals the likes of The Hershey Company and Mars have invaded the boxed-chocolate arena, the company has diversified its products portfolio. As a result, Russell Stover has countered the encroachment by developing non-boxed products, including candy bars and bagged chocolate pieces similar to M&Ms called Color Me Candies.
Russell Stover uses licensing agreements to give additional traction to its candies and a foothold in new niches. To market to younger customers, it has inked a licensing deal to use Beanie Babies to peddle its chocolates. To allow those on Weight Watchers to enjoy a piece of chocolate on occasion, Russell Stover developed a Whitman's candy under license from the weight loss company that cost consumers one point on its PointsPlus program. The Russell Stover division also offers a line of low-carb candies called Net Carb and Private Reserve, an upscale chocolate. – less