Mars Chocolate anniversary
Albany Mayor Dorothy Hubbard commemorates the anniversary with site director Mack Phillips and Mars Symbioscience president Frank Mars. Photo provided by Mars Chocolate North America.

Deep in the heart of the peanut state lies a friendly giant, now celebrating its 50th birthday.

Mars Chocolate North America has been roasting peanuts for brands such as Snickers, M&M’S, Twix and Dove in its Albany, Ga., facility since 1964. The company celebrated its golden anniversary Friday, led by Mars Symbioscience President and Board of Directors member Frank Mars and featuring guests such as Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, Rep. Sanford Bishop and Albany Mayor Dorothy Hubbard.

“Mars has been proud to call Albany home for the past 50 years,” says Mack Phillips, the Albany site director for Mars Chocolate North America. “The people of this community have always treated us like family, which is why we look forward to roasting Georgia peanuts right here for the next 50 years.”

Local community members have welcomed the company, and the company has in turn acted as a good family member to them. It has sponsored the Albany Marathon as well as the Plains Peanut Festival in nearby Plains, Ga. Employees also volunteer hundreds of hours each year at local organizations such as the Boys and Girls Club of Albany and Habitat for Humanity.

“For the past 50 years, the Mars Chocolate North America Albany facility and the associates who work there have been fixtures in our community,” Hubbard says. She commemorated the occasion by renaming the section of road in front of the facility as Mars Chocolate Boulevard.

“Considering Georgia farmers are responsible for growing nearly 50 percent of the nation's peanuts, and Mars is one of the world's five largest buyers of our favorite crop, it's only appropriate for Mars to have a facility like this in our great state,” Deal says. "The fact that the plant has flourished for the past half-century and is poised for continued growth in the next 50 years is a testament to Mars, its associates and the residents of this community."

The site, which also produces Combos variety snacks and Marathon energy bars, employs 175 people and sources 90 percent of its peanuts in-state. Mars Chocolate North America recently approved a $13.8-million investment in new technologies to enhance the facility.

The Albany facility is just one cog in the Mars wheel. Started in 1911 by Frank C. Mars in Tacoma, Wash., Mars, Inc. now boasts 75,000 employees across 74 countries and net sales of more than $33 billion.