Blogger Darren Zieger has written a post on his connection to these addictive bits, now manufactured under the name Chew-ets Original Peanut Chews, after the competition bought out the company:
Some more digging, and a thorough reading of my grand-cousin's autobiography, has allowed me to piece together a chronology of the Goldenberg branch of my family tree which includes a few more entertaining nuggets.
In a nutshell (he said, hoping to produce a less long-winded post than usual, a goal which this parenthetical statement does little to advance):
In the beginning (well, as far back as we know) there were Favel and Eva (nee ???) Goldenberg, a typical (for all we know) mid-19th century Romanian couple. Except that they weren't actually Goldenbergs. Favel's surname was Seltzer.
This fact got changed retroactively in the archives because one of his sons, Dovid Seltzer (1865 - 1935) changed his name when he arrived in the US around 1880.
It is said that, as the ship that took him across the Atlantic passed the Statue of Liberty on its approach to Ellis Island, Dovid asked a fellow passenger, a returning US citizen, "What is a good name to have in America?" The passenger replied "Sir, in America, the best name is Goldberg."
(Whether this was accurate is unclear; the National Archive only has Best Name data going back to the 1910 Census.)
And while it is not said, we can assume that at that revelatory moment, the fog lifted and, far off on the deck of next ship, Barbra Streisand began singing.
So, Dovid Seltzer became David Goldenberg (adding an extra syllable for, I'm guessing, subtlety).
David Goldenberg settled in Philadelphia, and, being a late 19th Century Jewish immigrant, he went into the candy business, as the law required (had he been wealthier, he would have had the option of becoming a diamond merchant).
He started out pushing a cart, later opened a candy store, and eventually, on the strength of one particularly successful confection, ran a factory, fulfilling the American Dream(TM) as the law required.
Let me emphasize here: I am a descendant of a man who owned a chocolate factory*. I find this quite marvelous for no practical reason.
The candy in question, you've probably encountered if you're from the Northeast. Goldenberg's Peanut Chews were a staple of my pre-diabetic diet. They rocked. Seriously, we're talking about Desert-Island-List food, here.
And here's my very own Peanut Chew story:
While working for the Jerusalem Post's Metro weekly in the old Tel Aviv editorial office, I sometimes went down the block to a shop offering delicious Iraqi Sephardic specialties cooked by the owner's mother and sister.
While waiting for my order to be packed, I noticed a few shelves holding snacks and candy. Imagine my surprise when I saw an entire box of Peanut Chews. The shop's owner wasn't there, and the manager had no idea where they had come from.
I bought the entire box. "Are they good?" the manager asked, having never tasted them, and I was afraid to give him a taste! The delights went home to live in our freezer, doled out small piece by small piece over the coming months.