A sticky-sweet legacy

Jon Durkee has been president of Durkee-Mower since the late 2010s, but he has been involved in the family business for much longer.

Durkee’s grandfather H. Allen Durkee, along with Fred L. Mower partnered to create the now popular Marshmallow Fluff in 1918.

“It’s been a family business and I’ve always wanted to be a part of it,” he said.

As a teenager, the current president of the company worked at the factory during a couple of summer seasons, but he wasn’t overly preoccupied with his father’s profession.

“We had Fluffernutters for lunch fairly often and a lot of fluff and hot chocolate, but honestly I was just a regular kid and wasn’t really paying attention to what my father did for a living,” he said.

Durkee never imagined himself as the future president of the company; early on, he just wanted to work with his father, Donald Durkee.

“I love him very much and I thought it would be a good career choice, and it was,” he said.

After getting married, Jon Durkee moved to Lynnfield in 1987.

“The thing that we liked the best about Lynnfield was that it’s a fairly-quiet town,” he said. “It kind of gave us a New Hampshire vibe. It’s quaint. There’s a lot of nice charm to it.”

Durkee-Mower, Lynn’s Marshmallow Fluff factory, has been able to stay afloat during COVID-19 unlike some businesses, but pandemic-driven, supply-chain issues have not spared the company.

In January, the factory was forced to shut down for a few days due to staffing shortages caused by positive COVID-19 cases. The factory has also been forced to shut down for hours at a time due to late deliveries caused by global supply-chain disruptions.

“That’s another thing that COVID has brought in,” he said. “You have trucking shortages, truck drivers are out and next thing you know, what you were expecting to have delivered on Monday doesn’t get there until Wednesday. And the next thing you know, you’ve run out of sugar or some other material that you need to produce.”

Durkee-Mower has had a home in Lynn since 1929 when it first moved its operations to Empire Street. While nearly 100 years have passed, things have stayed the same as Durkee’s kids are now involved in the business.

“My kids are now working here and I’m showing them the ropes the way my father showed me the ropes,” he said. “Hopefully it will last another several generations.”