Gurley Novelty, in Buffalo, NY, produced figurine candles that were designed and manufactured by candle maker Franklin Gurley. The candles were commissioned by the Socony-Vacuum Oil Company (now ExxonMobile) for the original purpose of using the excess paraffin that was produced during the oil refinery process, and were around in the 1930s. Gurley candles were originally produces under the name Tavern Novelty Candles, but was bought out by Gurley in 1949. Over time, Gurley's business went from paraffin confections such as wax lips and teeth to almost exclusively candle production. Tavern was bought out and the name was changed to Gurley Novelty in 1949. Gurley Novelty made candles for all the major holidays, but the Christmas and Halloween ones are the most sought after.
Oddly enough, these candles had their roots in the candy business:
In 1927, Franklin C. Gurley, Sr. left his position at Buffalo's National Aniline & Chemical Co. to build a candy business of his own. He purchased Robert White's new confectionary company, W&F Manufacturing Co., which had incorporated only the year before to produce, "...all kinds of candies, chocolates, ice cream dainties and parafine (sic) novelties." Gurley reported his occupation as "confectioner" by the 1930 census.
Just a few blocks away, Glenn Confections was busily engaged in producing their popular paraffin novelties, and continued to do so after becoming the wax candy division of W&F Manufacturing Co. Wax horse teeth (said to taste like wintergreen), and other novelties chattered profitably down Glenn's production line while Franklin Gurley explored further expansion opportunities for his rapidly growing company.
W&F Mfg. began producing novelty candles for Socony-Vacuum Oil Co. in 1939, using paraffin from Socony's nearby refinery at Olean, NY -- once home to the world's largest crude oil storage site. W&F's "Tavern Candles" Santas, reindeer, elves and other colorful Christmas favorites are still prized by E-Bay collectors as are Gurley's elaborately molded Halloween candles. Decorative and scented Gurley paraffin candles soon became W&F Mfg.'s principal product, accounting for 98% of sales, but production of Glenn's wax candy novelties continued. A field of metal tanks, some holding 20,000 gallons of paraffin, stood adjacent to Gurley's Buffalo factory.
As W&F's wax candy division, Glenn Confections produced the popular ancestors of today's Wack-O-Wax and Nik-L-Nips. In the town of Emlenton PA, a few miles south of Oil City, the Emlenton Refining Co. (and later the Quaker State Oil Refining Co.) supplied fully refined food-grade paraffin to W&F for these bizarre but beloved treats.