Nice Work If You Can Get It: Fighting Faux Mormon Corn

nicework_icnAn occasional survey of jobs both unusual and extraordinary, and the people who make them happen.

The company which employs Torbjorn Bruhn keeps this bookish, blond-haired, forty-two year old lawyer hopping –  even though it hasn’t produced a single product in more than thirty years.

As the official “copyright bulldog” of the Hearth’s Delight estate, Bruhn’s responsibility is ensuring that the now-defunct local candy manufacturer’s copyrights and trademarks stay out of the public domain.  “The will (of Hearth’s Delight founder and Norwegian expatriate Magnus Halvurson) made it very clear; the sole responsibility of the executor is to use the resources of the estate to keep the intellectual property of the company intact.”

Bruhn (employed by Halvurson’s grand-nephew and recipient of the Hearth’s Delight fortune, Howard Schmitt) says his closest call came when the California-based candy outlet and mall-staple The Sweet Factory began releasing Mormon Corn and Cinnamon Texans – familiar and popular Hearth’s Delight ‘Penny Candy’ classics – under their own banner. “We put an end to that, tout suite,” says Bruhn – or did he mean “Toot sweet”?

To maintain its copyright, the company releases fifty limited edition “Proof of Intent Packages” once every three years – plain cardboard packages containing a sample selection of reconstructed Hearth’s Delight classic confections. A sample box may include such vintage candies as Beauty Bars, Calypso Whistlers, Dices, Ring-O-Ding-A’s, Caramel Flats, Rev-Em-Ups, Peach Boys and more.

Having closed its factory doors more than three decades ago, Hearth’s Delight no longer has the resources to produce its candies in bulk, so for the Proof of Intent Packages, Bruhn oversees a small team of professional candy chefs whose job it is to recreate the treats. Leftover bulk packaging from the company’s original run provide the wrappers, and a copyright-protecting collectible is born.

Most of the packages end up in the hands of Halvurson’s relatives, or the families of his former business partners. Some end up on the auction circuit, with a 2003 selection of King Dandies Royal Candies, Snubs, Chinese Nut Bars and Crazy Cherry Coffins fetching more than $20,000 from a famished collector.

One of the perks of his position? “One Proof of Intent Package is always set aside for my use,” beams Bruhn, adding “Of course, sadly, they go directly into the vault, in the case that they’re needed to support us in any legal challenges.”

Restraint brings its own rewards, of course, but “Confidentially,” adds Bruhn, “I’d kill for a coconut Sasquatch Bar.”
- Jonathan Morris

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