See’s Candy and a Box of Coal

January 10, 2011 at 12:18 pm 3 comments

I’ve been out of my routine this winter. Ususally I’m at my desk at home in Brooklyn, but the last four weeks have found me in California, back in my childhood home. It has been a difficult season in my family, but there has been one bright spot: See’s Candy.

See’s is a California institution; their crisp and shiny white shops punctuate the main commercial artery connecting San Francisco and San Jose. The road is called “El Camino Real,” Spanish for the royal highway, surely made more royal by the presence of See’s.

Normally my family has a little one pound box around the holidays. This year, I started making trips to the local See’s, and pretty soon we had big two pound boxes strewn around the house. Somehow those chewy nougats and divinity creams have soothed us through a very challenging time.

Several years ago, I was in New York and I wanted to send my father in California a box of candy. He is, I believe, the ancestral source of my sweet tooth. He loves candy even more than I do. I wanted to send him the best, the very best candy I could think of. See’s, of course! He got the candy, but he was not impressed. “See’s! Why, we can get that any where,” he complained. “Why don’t you send me some really special candy if you’re going to all that trouble.”

I guess candy is a state of mind and a matter of geography. Out in New York, See’s is about as special as it gets, since we don’t have it. But everyone has a right to their own pleasures, so since then I’ve sent Belgian chocolates. I confess, despite the inflated price tag I find the Belgian and French confections inferior to my beloved See’s. But I guess I see my father’s point; you don’t bring coals to Newcastle, after all, and when you’re living in the Newcastle of American candy, you might mistake the most excellent candy of all for a box of coal.

Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Ann  |  January 10, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    Ah, but for crunch-lovers, See’s *toffee* is what we dream of (between Christmases, when it’s sold in mall kiosks in Florida)

  • 2. Jason Black  |  January 10, 2011 at 8:20 pm

    I spent my summers in California growing up, and have fond memories of See’s Candies. Now, whenever I get back there, I am sure to pick up a box to bring home to my own children – and for me, of course! – in Connecticut. It is always a treat for us. I like to fill out the form, and pick the precise number of each candy that will go in the box – and it is usually a 2 pound box. Scotchmallows are a personal favorite. Mmmmmmmmmmmm.

  • 3. Charlotte  |  January 11, 2011 at 3:05 pm

    As a Californian in exile, I assure you that See’s is indeed very very very special. I’d give just about anything for the sampler box with 4 chocolates and 2 lollipops that my Grandmother used to give each of us every Christmas. Of course, what I probably really want is Grandmother back, but a little box of See’s at Christmas is about as close as I can get these days.

    Best wishes to you and your family.


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Candy: A Century of Panic and Pleasure

Welcome to Candy Professor

Candy in American Culture What is it about candy? Here you'll find the forgotten, the strange, the curious, the surprising. Our candy story, one post at a time.

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