Like so many of you the end there, See’s Candy has been a continuous in mine life, through so numerous Valentine’s Day, Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, and Christmas celebrations. The familiar white box, v its old-fashioned cameo picture of founder mar See, was a sweet staple in my family’s house.
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As a child, i sometimes acquired scolded by my Dad because that pinching the corners of all the candy in the box to see what fillings they organized inside. As an adult, I was in awe of my friend Lori, who had actually the uncanny capacity to discern what each item of candy was, just by looking in ~ it.
With my long ties to the candy, it’s no surprise that ns jumped in ~ the opportunity when recently invited to tour See’s three-story manufacturing facility in southern San Francisco. (Sorry, girlfriend sweet tooths out there: See’s doesn’t offer continuous tours; they room by invitation only.)
The aroma that sugar, chocolate and butter hits you the minute you walk right into the quaint lobby, v its frosted Deco light fixtures and spic-and-span, black-and-white checkerboard floor. Lest you gain famished while friend wait for your tourism guide, there is a domed glass serving food in the waiting area the holds liquid samples girlfriend can aid yourself to.
This is among two See’s factories. The other, around the same size, is in Los Angeles. This is the busy time because that the liquid company, together 350 employees in the san Francisco factory alone equipment up to rotate out cacao Santas, and other Christmas treats. The candy with the longest shelf-life is made first (lollypops, which are an excellent for 100 days); the ones v the shortest shelf-life space made critical (cream-centered bonbons, which store for just 15 days).
All seven production lines operate throughout the fall/winter holiday season. ~ above a offered day, the mountain Francisco locale churns out anywhere from 42,000 come 72,000 pounds of candy a day.
See’s has much more than 200 sleeve stores now, together far east as Chicago; and airport kiosks and temporary vacation storefronts.
The See family no much longer owns the company, which it began in 1921 in Los Angeles. In 1972, they offered it to investment manager Berkshire Hathaway, Inc. Nope; you won’t uncover Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffet wandering around here, nibbling ~ above molasses chips and also divinity. But he does have a fondness for the candy, claims my guide, manufacturing Manager Robert McIntyre. Indeed, you will uncover See’s candy at Berkshire Hathaway shareholders meetings, typically peanut brittle — Buffet’s favorite — in boxes through his likeness on the cover.
Despite no much longer being family-owned, See’s has managed to retain its venerable quality. Computers operate much of the devices now, yet the bonbons space still dipped by hand. A high-tech chemistry laboratory on website tests because that potential bacteria in every batch of candy prior to it is released for sale. In ~ the very same time, some of the candy, such together the fudge, is quiet made making use of Mary See’s initial recipes.
Why has See’s Candy sustained in popularity every these years, even when so plenty of gourmet chocolates now have actually popped up on the market?
“It’s consistency. It’s quality. And also it’s a particular mystic,” McIntyre says. “We don’t change our stores. They are old-fashioned. You prosper up with See’s, and when you’re one adult, it’s quiet the same. The liquid is likewise a reasonable price (a 1-pound box is $15). You acquire value in what you’re purchasing.”
See’s likewise has a free return policy. You can demolish fifty percent a box of candy, and still return it because that a complete refund, no inquiries asked, McIntyre says.
And let’s not forget among the many endearing heritages that has dated Day One: with every purchase in the store, you obtain a item of candy to nibble on at no charge. Ahh, if only every little thing we bought came v a freebie prefer that.
As we walked about the factory, i couldn’t aid but picture that indelible step from “I Love Lucy,” through Lucy and Ethel stuffing their faces with chocolate, trying come cover increase the truth that they to be falling farther and also farther behind if manning a conveyer-belt of candy.
I reaped the rewards, but didn’t need to go to work like the duo did. Instead, as we go around, McIntyre kept encouraging me to sample any type of candy gift made. (Hey, it’s challenging work, however someone has to do it.)
McIntyre admitted the can’t stand up to whenever employees are churning the end Café Au Lait truffles. I have the right to see why. Together I traction one the end of a just-packed box and bit into it, the coffee-cream facility was still for this reason fluffy, and also the cup-of-Joe flavor really resonated.
A unique propriety mix of cacao is make by Burlingame’s Guittard specifically for See’s. Every the nuts are closely sorted to make certain no shells space lurking. Any sub par candies the stick with each other (called “Twins”) go to the employee store, wherein they can be purchased at a heavy discount. Any candies that loss on the floor throughout the production process? They walk to a co-op of main Valley farmers, who feed lock to their pigs. Talk about porking out!
If a caterer runs out of a details ingredient, See’s won’t make the specific candy quite than substitute something else. A certain type of date from the Middle eastern no longer was available when farmers there stopped cultivation them. So See’s quit making its date-nut candies fairly than move to a various variety.
“Our consumer all have their favorite piece of candy,” McIntrye says. “They have the right to tell if something has actually been modified or changed. And also they get upset.”
It have the right to take only about four months from idea to production to produce a new candy, using existing equipment. New for Thanksgiving this year is the “Pie Pack,” a ring pie-shaped crate filled with pie-flavored truffles: pumpkin pie, apologize pie, pecan pie, and also cranberry-orange pie.
The most famous candies room the milk Bordeaux, king caramel, and the nuts & chews assortment.
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Not all candies space winners, though. The gourmet truffles, which were introduced one Christmas season, didn’t last past that. Perhaps a small too posh because that See’s customers who favor no-nonsense, fuss-free sweets?
After all, it’s really the satisfying taste that nostalgia that us enjoy most in See’s candy. And it’s what keeps us coming ago for more. Ns don’t recognize anyone — no matter exactly how old they space now, or just how finicky your tastes have become, or how far away they live native California currently — that doesn’t simply want come dive in as soon as that acquainted box is opened up.