Are See’s candies the best in the world? It is certainly the most memorable

For 40 years, my parents have exchanged the same gifts on their wedding anniversary. Along with concert tickets, jewelry, tennis rackets, coffee mugs, and fridge magnets, the list still includes See’s Candies.

The exchange of gifts usually begins like this: in the early morning, my father puts a dozen red roses in a vase and places it on the edge of the dining area. It’s strategically placed to be the first thing my mom sees when she comes down the stairs. A plush card awaits in an envelope leaning against the vase, and a folded See’s Candies bag sits next to it.

Then my mom comes down the stairs holding a folded bag of See’s candy behind her back as if, after years of the same routine, there was even a slight chance that she was presenting something else. In his other hand? Too soft a card.

Each of their bags contains five Dark Chocolate Scotchmallows, See’s best and one of the most popular varieties. Introduced in the 1950s, Scotchmallows are made from a disk of honey marshmallow under a layer of creamy caramel covered with a thin sheet of dark chocolate.

There is no doubt that next year things will turn out the same.

If you grew up in California, chances are you are familiar with See’s Candies, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this month. For many, the brand’s black-and-white checkerboard pattern (in stores and packaging) is associated with family celebrations, vacations, and momentary getaways. The company’s more than 240 stores, most of them in California, can be found in nearly every major shopping center in the state. (There are stores nationwide and 14 international stores.)

See’s is far from America’s most popular candy brand – that title belongs to Mars and Hershey’s. Fans of high-end chocolates, like Godiva and Vosges, and local favorites Compartes and LetterPress, may think of See’s as something from another time: old-fashioned, quaint, and just a little too sweet. But See’s Candies fans are passionate about their Bordeaux chocolates, molasses chips and brittle peanuts.

Something special happens when you walk into a See store. Everyone, regardless of location, feels exactly the same. Bright and fragrant with toasted nuts, chocolate and vanilla, the stores invite the promise of nostalgia. The pristine white walls and lighted storefronts are the best kind of respite from reality. Candy is apparently what you came for, but every trip is a way to connect with who you were when you first tried See’s.

See CEO and President Pat Egan said, “This should be our best year in terms of sales,” with 1 billion candies produced. The brand’s e-commerce has doubled in the past two years, and the company expects to hit 2.2 million orders this year, most of which will ship in the coming weeks.

Candy was an important part of my childhood, each piece was a condensed, sugar-filled memory of Friday afternoon surprises, family trips to the mall, birthdays and anniversary celebrations. It was the candy we took to relatives for the holidays. At Hanukkah, we opened the box of Nuts and Chews and tried to guess which coin was what. My sister took bites out of half the pieces a few times, looking for the Butterchew Pudding. She returned the uneaten halves to the box. I was slightly bothered by this, but still ate his leftovers.

Sometimes (okay, often) I crumpled up the brown paper cups and stuck them between the cushions on my grandmother’s couch. (Sorry, grandma.)

A stop at See’s was mandatory every time we went to the mall. I often chose the pieces that lasted the longest: a caramel lollipop or a piece of molasses. For the latter, I would take my time to lick all the chocolate before biting into the chip. All family members left the store with at least two samples.

On the first Hanukkah night this year, there will be two boxes of nuts and chews on the dining room table after the latkes in the house where I grew up. Next summer, there will be 10 more Scotchmallows, tucked away in two paper bags on the dining area.

I have tasted chocolate from the bean to the bar all over the world and tried desserts from renowned pastry chefs. I sampled and wrote about my fair share of candy. But the chocolate that I desire the most, the one that reminds me of my family and transports me to the simplest, before time, is always See’s.

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