See’s Candies–What More Can You Say (or Smell)?

The year 2021 will be known for many things with the number one item at the top being the endless coronavirus that stubbornly is still hanging around preventing normalcy to return.

However, something lighter and brighter also happened in 2021:  See’s Candies celebrated their 100th anniversary.  To commemorate the event, the company issued special new candies each month, available for a limited time.

During the pandemic, I consumed more See’s than I normally would in 2-3 years—the ultimate comfort food.  One reason for my lifeline to See’s was that a person could easily order candy and have it home delivered during the quarantine period when most businesses were shut down.

The first See’s Candies shop I knew was on San Fernando Blvd. in downtown Burbank.  My mom would take our family there a few times a year.

See’s would usually be the chocolate of choice for Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day presents.

Over the years my tastes have changed.  As a kid, I always preferred the milk chocolate cremes over all other selections.  Towards the middle part of my life, I leaned towards the pre-boxed nuts and chews assortment over the cremes.  Now I hand select my favorite dark chocolate pieces:  Scotchmallows, almond nougats, butterchews, walnut squares, and, of course, Bordeauxs.

What is extra special about See’s is how little has changed no matter which parent company runs it.  One can only pray that this remains true.

Every See’s Candies shop is identical in design no matter what city you are in.  The black and white motif, the uniforms of its employees, the sound of chocolates delicately placed in protective corrugated wrappers, the smell (oh, the smell) that enrobes you like a piece of chocolate.  The delightful display case of all the goodies that goes on forever, and the self-serve shelves of pre-packaged goodies.

The one thing that has changed over the years is that only women used to work in the stores.  Now you will see some men.  I prefer the ladies serving chocolate, thank you very much.  Why?  Because it reminds you of a mother figure and even a Mary See figure serving you the delicacies, you know, the person who adorns every box, the person without whom this 100-year-old candy company would have never existed.

It was her son Charles who started selling his mother’s candy in Los Angeles back in 1921.

Living in a time when so much change flashes by us in a blur, how comforting and soothing it is knowing that See’s Candies remains steady.  No shortcuts in its ingredients.  And still rather affordable for quality chocolate.

Believe me, I have tried other candy companies.  Whenever I travel, I look for the local chocolatier and taste their wares.  I’ve hunted online for the “oldest” candy store in a vicinity and ordered from many.  There are several delicious boxes of chocolates out there—my second favorite is Lowery’s in Muncie, Indiana (which still rolls its pieces by hand)—but few match the taste, the size (the See’s pieces are larger than most) or the consistent quality than See’s Candies.

May it last another 100 years. And may the final thing I eat before I die be a dark Bordeaux chocolate.

I’m Dreaming of a Not-so-Hot Christmas

When New Yorker Irving Berlin wrote the opening to his iconic “White Christmas,” he was suffering from a warm December day while vacationing in Beverly Hills.

The introduction, rarely recorded or known, goes like this:

The sun is shining, the grass is green
The orange and palm trees sway
There’s never been such a day
In Beverly Hills, L.A.
But it’s December the twenty-fourth
And I am longing to be up North

All my life I have been in the South, Southern California that is, and have only known warm or even hot holidays.  Forget a white Christmas; I’d settle for a sunny but brisk 65-degree holiday.

Unfortunately, the chance of a cold or rainy Thanksgiving or Christmas is extremely rare.  If the temperatures stop rising at 79 degrees, I consider it better than the 93-degree Thanksgiving that sweltered Burbank in 2017.

Watching those TV commercials with people bundled up in sweaters and parkas, making their way through snowy landscapes taunts me:  that fantasy has never materialized.

And with the way the weather has become warmer in recent decades, the future looks hotter.

I know that me griping about warm weather during the fall and winter months places me among the minority of Angelenos.  I am never happy when a weathercaster appears joyful describing a warming trend or gloomy when predicting a few raindrops in the forecast.

Here we are a week before Thanksgiving and I’ve only had one fire in the fireplace so far because the nighttime temperatures have barely edged below 55 degrees.

For me, cooler days invigorates me while the hot ones depletes my energy even with indoor air conditioning.

I keep promising myself that one of these Decembers I will trek to a colder climate and spend a week in a mountain cabin and actually see it snow on Christmas Day.

In the meantime, I’ll have to live with not Christmas in July, but July in Christmas.