“Chocolate craves your lips, melts at your touch, and savors the moment.”

Richelle E. Goodrich

Consider how many of our memories involve chocolate. What’s interesting is how many of today’s biggest chocolate companies got their start in small kitchens around loving family recipes. While I love all kinds of chocolate, my personal favorite is a female-founded fixture in my home state of California. The legacy of See’s Candies dates back to the late 1800s where it all started with a woman named Mary See.

    Photo credit: Sees.com

Mary and her husband Alexander ran a hotel on Tremont Park Island in Ontario, Canada.  Mary started making and perfecting her own homemade candy recipes during this period until 1919 when her husband passed away.

Mary’s son, Charles was a candy salesman who wanted to escape Toronto’s cold winters so he convinced his mother to move to California with his family.  They settled in Pasadena, California in a post-Victorian bungalow where Mary’s spent much of her time perfecting her chocolate candies in their black and white kitchen.

In 1920, Charles opened the first See’s Candies shop in Los Angeles with black and white floor tiles just like Mary’s kitchen.  Adhering to Mary’s strict use of only using the finest and freshest ingredients, Charles knew every patron that tried the free samples would fall for Mary’s delights.  Of course, they did and many of the marketing and product quality standards developed by Mary and her son are still practiced today!

There are over 200 stores in the United States with more than half located in California.  Warren Buffet of Berkshire Hathaway bought the company in 1972 – what a sweet deal – and this is said to be one of his favorite investments!

While the history of chocolate around the world is fascinating, there are a few Hollywood stars that have also helped to put it on the map in fun and charming ways.  Lucille Ball and Cher are connected to chocolate in very interesting ways.

While the history of chocolate around the world is fascinating, there are a few Hollywood stars that have also helped to put it on the map in fun and charming ways.  Lucille Ball and Cher are connected to chocolate in very interesting ways.

There’s a scene from one of Lucille Ball’s I Love Lucy show that is still one of my all-time favorites. It happens inside a chocolate factory and is aptly called Job Switchers.  The clip below will make you laugh and it’s worth noting that See’s factory, which still exists in Culver City, CA, actually helped Lucille Ball and Vivian Vance to prepare this hilarious episode.  You’ll see them desperately trying to keep up with the production line and learn a bit more about the history of See’s Candy.

Photo credit: New York Times

The other powerhouse celebrity actually worked at See’s Candy as a young 16-year-old.  Cher was working at See’s when she met Sonny Bono and she actually quit her job to be his housekeeper! It’s a fun bit of trivia knowing Cher would go on to stardom and win an Oscar for her performance in the 1987 move, Moonstruck.  I can’t help but think Sonny and Cher were moonstruck in See’s!

Today, the charming black and white stores are as popular as ever and still use the same signature look.  See’s Candies sells 26 million pounds of candy and a million pounds of sweet samples are passed out annually to their customers.

There are so many traditions around chocolate but all of them are grounded in love.  Whether its the love of its traditionally tantalizing flavor or more modern adaptations that explore new chocolate combinations and tastes, I will forever cherish the union of love and chocolate on Valentine’s Day.  Wishing everyone a happy Valentine’s Day every day of the year, and don’t forget to give your loved ones a See’s heart-shaped box of chocolate or one of our WS Boutique chocolates.  Here’s to making new chocolate memories and a great laugh thanks to the incomparable Lucille Ball!

Denise Benson

Denise Benson

Denise Benson is a photographer, creative writer and traveler. Discovering new ideas, people, places and cultures is a lifelong passion, which Denise enjoys sharing with her readers using her unique perspective as a photographic storyteller. An avid sailor, she and her husband Brian have sailed 10,000 blue water miles exploring the South Pacific. Along with sailing, she enjoys travel, food & wine, books and nature related activities, including napping on the fore-deck of her boat, Moonstone.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.