Colorado Jolly Rancher Plant Closes

After 53 years, the Jolly Rancher factory in Wheatridge is closing.

The closure comes a year after Pennsylvania-based Hershey Foods, which owns the plant, announced a restructuring and layoffs when it moved production to that state.

The cinnamon, watermelon, apple, cherry and lemon hard candies were created in 1949 by then ice cream shop owners Bill and Dorothy Harmsen as a way to make up for slow sales during the winter.

Bill Harmsen died in April.

The original plant -- a red-and-white barn in Golden, had been a tourist attraction, drawing two million visitors yearly.

The family sold the company in 1967 to Beatrice Foods, which sold it to Illinois-based Leaf in 1983. Hershey bought the company in 1997.