The sunset descends upon Main Street in West Reading shortly before the chocolate factory explosion occurred. PHOTO COURTESY OF NIMBESI

Olivia Heilemann
News Editor

On March 24, 2023, an explosion occurred at the R.M. Palmer Company chocolate factory in West Reading, PA. The incident left seven dead at the site, however, none were immediately identified under the rubble.

The blast happened at around 5 p.m. on Friday, and the first victim was not found until almost two hours later at 6:50 p.m. The rest of the victims were found over the course of the weekend, and all of the missing people were accounted for by Sunday evening. The surrounding buildings were condemned in precaution as the explosion brushed over them and it allowed space for more research on the cause of the incident. 

The communication systems of the R.M. Palmer Company were down after the explosion, so families were notified by first responders and disaster relief teams. The victims’ names remain unknown to the public at this time out of respect for the grieving families. 

“We have lost close friends and colleagues, and our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of all who have been impacted,” said a statement made on the R.M. Palmer Company website.

The company’s factory has been stationed in West Reading for over 70 years and is known for its seasonal candies for Valentine’s Day, Easter, Halloween, and Christmas. 

Nearby residents have threatened lawsuits against the company for injuries they faced in their own homes adjacent to the explosion. The cause of the incident has yet to be identified.For contact information regarding the explosion, the R.M. Palmer Company can be emailed at