Pennsylvania native Pam Gesford has candy making in her blood.
Gesford’s grandfather and father both worked for Hershey Candy Co., and when her father returned home from work, Gesford would run to greet him — and smell his hair.
“The jury is probably still out on whether I was a chocoholic or a daddy’s girl,” Gesford joked.
Either way, Gesford, now a food scientist at Hershey, developed a passion for the candy industry, leading to positions at other confectionery giants including Jelly Belly and Perfetti Van Melle, as well as opportunities to teach through the National Confectioners Association (NCA) and the Professional Manufacturing Confectioners Association (PMCA).
Her endeavors have earned her the 2017 Stroud Jordan Award, presented each year at the American Association of Candy Technologists’ (AACT) National Technical Seminar to an individual who has made outstanding contributions to the confectionery technology field, particularly through education, organization and research.
“This industry means so much to me,” Gesford told seminar attendees gathered at the Hyatt Lodge on the McDonald’s Campus in Oak Brook, Ill. “It’s given me way more than I’ve given it. I hope I can continue to give back as time goes forward.”
Randy Hofberger of R&D Candy Consultants, who received the 2016 Stroud Jordan Award, presented an overview of Gesford’s career, travels and interests. He called Gesford “very giving” of her knowledge and experiences.
“Not only is she a great person who will talk to anyone, she will help people and make things happen in the industry organizations,” Hofberger said after the presentation.
Gesford graduated from Penn State University in 1983. She started her career as an associate research specialist for Hershey Foods, later becoming research development manager at Jelly Belly and technical services manager at ColorCon. She’s also served as technology manager at Perfetti Van Melle and senior consultant at Knechtel.
Gesford is active in the Philadelphia AACT chapter and the national organization, serving as councilor at large from 2008 to 2010. She’s also served on the Program Committee and the Back to Basics committee for the PMCA, as well as twice teaching a panning course. She has also taught courses on panning and coloring for the NCA.
Gesford also shares her love of food technology with young people, serving as a mentor through Purdue University’s Food Analysis Program and volunteering to teach the basics of chocolate tempering and candy making to the Missionettes, a leadership program for girls.