More than sixty years ago, two brothers Chew Choo Keng and Chew Choo Han left their village in Fujian, China in their late teens to come to Singapore. Full of aspirations and eager to eke out a living to support their family in China, they found work in a local biscuit factory.
However, their happiness was short-lived as the Japanese invaded Singapore soon after, forcing the two brothers to seek refuge in Perak, Malaysia where they made biscuits by hand for sale until flour and sugar could no longer be sourced. There was a market demand for salt, so they turned to making salt from sea water to sell. As soap was also in short supply, experiments to make soap from ashes were done until they also had soap to sell, all in an effort to continue their war-time livelihood.
After the Japanese retreat, the brothers returned to Singapore. Having married, with their growing young families and their family in China to support, they went back to doing what they did before ¨C selling hand-made biscuits.
Their big break came when Chew Choo Han chanced upon some old and war-damaged biscuit making machines being sold as scrap from the old factory where they used to work. He promptly bought them and with sheer determination and a mechanically astute mind, he rigged up a semi-automated biscuit production line using bicycle chains to move the biscuits on a conveyor system through an improvised brick oven.
The enhanced production capability escalated sales and, in 1947, Khong Guan Biscuit Factory (Singapore) Limited was set up with its first factory premises at 18 Howard Road.
Factories in Malaysia and other parts of South East Asia soon followed with production lines being designed and manufactured by their own engineering outfit. In the early 1980s, Khong Guan factories were established in some of the coastal cities in China. Sales enquiries came in from afar, and Khong Guan biscuits soon found their way to supermarket shelves in the Middle East, Hong Kong, Japan, Australia, Europe, Canada and the United States.