Saturday, October 27, 2012

Like a kid in a candy store!

Today two of my friends and I toured Regina's Candies in St. Paul, Minnesota. This is a family owned and run store that has been in business 86 years. The owner is the grandson of the original owner, and two of his sisters work there as well as their kids. I have been a patron of this store over the past 20 years. I first learned about it when I moved to the twin cities. I had just left a job in the food industry and though we didn't allow public tours, I decided to see if one of the big candy companies around this area had tours. Going through the Yellow Pages (The Internet wasn't part of my life yet.), I was told the two big candy companies - Pearson's and Fanny Farmer - didn't give tours. But calling Regina's, I was happy to learn they give one tour a year— one Saturday in October. They told me they would send me a post card closer to the date. Well, I went on that tour and have been a fan ever since!

✿ڿڰۣ(̆̃̃ღ ♥ ღ(̆̃̃ڿڰۣ✿

Jo, posing for me.

A granddaughter of the original owner is telling the history of the candy store.

This worker, who has been employed there 25 years, is cutting caramels.

A sister of the owner explained to us how their famous candy canes and thin, delicate ribbon candy are made. I have bought many of these candy canes over the years. They are really beautiful – no two alike. Surprisingly, they gave samples of the caramels and ribbon candy.

There were 45 in our tour! It was so much fun watching the children.

These men are stirring peanut brittle (the owner is on the left). Each batch makes 35 pounds.

Pouring the 300 degree brittle on the marble table. The table was original to this candy store.

Spreading the hot brittle. The recipe has 7 pounds of raw peanuts in it. This is a family recipe. 

Once spread, it was cut into thirds and the still hot brittle was hand carried to a metal table to be pulled thinner and thinner (makes it easier to chew) and broken into pieces. The owner told us they make 11,000 pounds alone for an accounting firm each year for their clients' Christmas gifts!

This very sweet lady on the tour is 102 years old! She walked with a cane, but managed going downstairs for that part of the tour as well as coming up the stairs. I loved meeting her!

They purchase blocks of dark and light chocolate from the same company their grandfather ordered from 86 years ago. They have never tried any other.

This is my very favorite candy being made. They are honeycomb chips. Regina's buys the bare honeycomb chip already made and puts them on this special conveyor belt to cover them in chocolate. The belt on the left is warmed to allow the chocolate to stick.

When the candy comes out of the chocolate part, one of the sisters makes a family design on each piece, and then the candy moves into a cooled area of the conveyor belt to cure.

Cooled and cured honeycomb chips being boxed.

English toffee going through the chocolate machine and the crushed, toasted almonds are being applied to the outside. This is delicious candy, too!

Honeycomb chips (in foreground) and various other candies being boxed.

These turtles are ready to be covered in chocolate. 

While the store has saved all of the original chocolate molds, they now use plastic ones.

 ✿ڿڰۣ(̆̃̃ღ ♥ ღ(̆̃̃ڿڰۣ✿ 

There aren't many companies that have such a rich history. It seems these days so many have gone by the wayside. I love it that this store survives, and is actually thriving. When our tour ended, there were another 45 anxious people ready to start theirs. This was really enjoyable! Oh, and all candy today was 20% off!


Heidi said...

This would be so much fun. Maybe I can do the tour with you sometime. I love chocolate!

MamaD4 said...

Very neat and I think I gained weight just reading about your tour! I love hearing about these family-owned businesses--what a great way to grow up. I knew about Pearson's, but I did not know that Fanny Farmer was a MSP-based business.

I will never forget our tour of the Stollwerck Chocolate Factory in Cologne--the kids enjoyed it so much!

Pat said...

How fun was that. I felt like I got to take the tour right along with you. Blog was great. Really descriptive. And the pictures were great.

Anonymous said...

Hi Donna, Haven't heard of this place. My mouth was drooling. Will have to check this out. Especially the honeycomb chocolate. Sounds delicious! Thanks for sharing! Cherie