Born at Xenia in 1868, John Glossinger at the age of 19 left for the big city in search of success. With just a $1 in his pocket he set off for Cincinnati. He later found himself in New York City and became a $5-a-week office boy. That opened the door to the sales field on which his heart was set. He was successful with the Waterbury Watch Co. and helped develop the Bulova timepiece business, brought the “Oh Henry!” candy bar to national notice and headed a smoking-pipe company.
He put an ad in the paper that an energetic young man was seeking employment as a salesman and he secured a position with a pipe tobacco company. His first assignment was in Boston, then later Philadelphia. After seven years, he was assigned to the Chicago office which included St. Louis in the territory.
He became so successful that the American Tobacco Company offered him a job which he accepted and in just a few years, he became president of the firm. Unfortunately the company split and he found himself without a job after 24 years in the tobacco business.
He accepted the position of sales manager for a Philadelphia chocolate and cocoa manufacturing business. Things were fine for a while, but though he was earning bonuses and good commissions, the company refused to pay him the money he earned, and so he went off to seek another position.
This time, he was in contact with the Williamson Candy Company of Chicago. He found that the company was making a candy bar, something that had not been done before. Hershey was in existence, but their products were not called candy bars. John thought that this new product called “Oh Henry!” had possibilities, but it had only been marketed locally. He wanted to make it into a nationally known product.
He decided to try to sell the bar first in Cleveland, and so hired boys to post cardboard signs wherever they could. The signs were small, a red card with white lettering reading “Oh Henry.”
He was holding the signs which the boys were tacking up when a car was standing at the curb. He slipped the card on the radiator and it fit. He put one on the next car and the next. A man driving a truck called out “Say, mister, come and put one on me, too,” which he did. Then the driver said “Give me one for my buddy.”
Soon he realized that tacking up the signs took too much time so they began to put the signs on the front of automobiles. What great advertising. All over town, cars had “Oh Henry!” showing on their radiators, and curiosity began to take over. People saw the signs, but had no idea what it meant.
The sales force was instructed to say they did not know about “Oh Henry!.” Soon they ran out of signs and so paid a local printer to publish 2,000 more cards by the next day. Soon Cleveland had thousands of red signs reading “Oh Henry”. Hundreds of people were asking what this meant.
John sent the salesmen out to get orders from the local merchants. The salesmen would carry the box of “Oh Henry” bars into the store, open the box, take out a bar and slice it so that anyone nearby could taste it. “This is a fine piece of dollar candy for a dime” was the slogan, since each bar sold for 10 cents.
The salesmen were instructed to tell the merchant that only that one box could be sold at that time, but more could be ordered.
In John’s own words “Well, Cleveland went over with a bang. We had a car-load of Oh Henry! on the railroad track worth $8,000 and before we were through, we didn’t have a bar left.”
Soon, other candy bars including Babe Ruth appeared, which sold for five cents. When John suggested lowering the price of Oh Henry to five cents, the company refused, and John quit.
At 65 he retired for a year but boredom and a reputation he had acquired for rehabilitating shaky enterprises brought him quickly back to business. As president of a surgical instrument manufacturing business he became known for inspirational messages addressed to associates. These found wider audience when compiled in a book and he wrote until he was well in his 90s.
This is one of his writings: “Let fear not weaken you, you have strength to meet any crisis that comes to you. You are equipped to meet any emergency. Have faith in yourself.”
“Colonel” Glossinger, as he was known to them, had many friends in high places, including governmental, military and show business celebrities.
Ever ready with aid for others, he once said, “When you love people, you have to help people.”
John Glossinger was born August 10, 1868 in Xenia and died July 23, 1968 in Dayton at the age of 99. He is located in Section 101 Lot 3742.
And what about that “Oh Henry!” candy bar…
“Oh Henry!” is a chocolate bar containing peanuts, caramel, and fudge coated in chocolate. It was first introduced in 1920, by the Williamson Candy Company of Chicago, Illinois. According to legend, “Oh Henry!” was originally named
after a boy who frequented the Williamson Company, flirting with the girls who made the candy. The name is also said to be a homage to American writer, O. Henry. However, there is no definitive explanation as to the exact origin of the name.
Another theory is that the candy bar was invented by a man named Tom Henry of Arkansas City, Kansas. Tom Henry ran a candy company called the Peerless Candy Factory, and in 1919 he started making the Tom Henry candy bar. He sold the candy bar to Williamson Candy Company in 1920 where they later changed the name to “Oh Henry!”.
Woodland Cemetery and Arboretum is located at 118 Woodland Avenue off of Brown Street near the UD Campus. The Woodland Office is open Monday through Friday 8 am to 5 pm and Saturday 8 am to 12 pm. The Cemetery and Arboretum are open daily from 8 am to 6 pm. The Mausoleum is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm. Fore more information call 937-228-3221 or visit the Woodland website.