Thursday, June 4, 2015

Brown Sugar. Hard Centers. What's in a name?

EDITOR'S NOTE: When you run a small business, there is never down time. While Christmas and Easter keep us running simply to fill orders, the spring months are devoted to catching up with paperwork and marketing. Each spring, we at Anderson's Candy Shop take a step back and look at trends in what we are selling, and NOT selling, and try to correct. This year we noticed three major "duds" in sales. The following walks you through what we discovered and the changes we have made in response.

Names are important. 

Would you look something up on “Backrub”?

Would you watch a movie starring Norma Jeane Mortenson? Or a cartoon show about Mortimer Mouse?

Does a nice, cold “Brad's Drink” sound delicious?

How about using Google to search for a movie staring Marilyn Monroe or Mickey Mouse while drinking an ice cold Pepsi?

Sound better?

Surely each of these name changes had an impact on the popularity of each person or product.

At Anderson's we recognize that names carry a lot of weight and we like to think we understand a thing or two about naming our own products.

But sometimes, we know we've gotten it wrong.

Two years ago a customer pointed out an error in our ways when he insisted that werename the Filbert candy bar Hazelnut.

A few letters different and today the once slow-selling chocolate covered Filbert is enjoying a lot more love and understanding as the trendy Hazelnut.

We feel it is that time again.

Our storefront associates have pointed out to us that a few of our handmade chocolates need a new lease on life – and an updated name!

Don't be alarmed, we haven't changed a single recipe or ingredient. But, we did listen to our storefront associates suggestions, and the next time you're in our shop or browsing online, you will notice some new products (or at least new names)!

The first starlet to enjoy a name change this spring was our Meltaway Cream bar.

Sweet, rich and smooth this candy bar was constantly misunderstood.

Folks who loved peppermint would reach for Meltaway and then recoil when they realized what they were reaching for was not mint, but a brown sugar buttercream.

And who could blame them?

Meltaway Fudge is minty, and so are Frosted Meltaways … what were we thinking!?

With the help of a call-out to our Facebook friends and a brainstorming session in house, we settled on a more descriptive name.

So, on a rainy Friday in May, Meltaway Cream became Brown Sugar Buttercream.

It has been almost a month now and we don’t think Brown Sugar Buttercream will ever look back!

Instead of being passed over by those seeking mint, scores of chocolate lovers are now enjoying the velvety, brown sugar cream center.

It is funny to be on the serving side of the counter when one of our regulars exclaims, "Oh, Brown Sugar Buttercream! That sounds good. I don't remember seeing that before. I'll try one of those."

Little do they know it's been there all along.

In some ways, changing the name of a product is as easy as ordering new packaging.

But the transition also presents challenges.

We fret - will current fans of the given product be able to locate it under its new name?

Will fans fear that we have changed more than the name and - gulp - the ingredients, too?

These were some of our major concerns with the two other candy products that we have recently renamed – our Hard Centers assortment and our Hard & Soft Centers assortment.

Although these assortments include some of our most popular pieces of candy - Buttercreams, Caramels, Peanut Butter Crunch pieces for example - they are duds at the sales counter.

And again, who could blame the customer? What is a “Hard” center?

The word Hard is typically associated with rocks, stones, breaking teeth, and difficult personalities. Not delicious candy!

And for that matter, a “Soft” center could be… well, anything.

So, after more brainstorming, we arrived at the following longer, but hugely more descriptive, new names.

INTRODUCING! Crunchy, Nutty, Chewy. (Formerly Hard Centers)

If you are a fan of chocolate dipped crunchy centers like molasses and mint chips and peanut butter and raspberry crunch AND you love our chewy centers, including caramel,nougat and butterscotch AND you are a fan of our chocolate dipped nuts - you can now purchase a box of our Crunchy, Chewy, Nutty centers!

And, last but certainly not least, we introduce to you: Everything But Nuts.  (Formerly Hard & Soft Centers)

If you are a customer who loves everything we make, BUT can not have nuts then Everything But Nuts is for you!

We know it's not Pepsi or Google, but we're hoping these names changes really do give our beloved bar and boxes new leases on life.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Honoring a dear friend

EDITOR'S NOTE: A few weeks ago, the Anderson's Candy Shop family lost someone very special. Doris M. Speaker, 84, of Richmond, who worked with us for more than 40 years, passed away on January 6. While we were not ready to lose such a light and an example in our lives, we are comforted by memories of her and we benefit from her legacy. Below you will find a tribute to Doris written by my father, Leif (pictured). It expresses not only what a wonderful woman Doris was, but how much of an impact one person can have on another, on a family, and on a business. 

Doris has been a part of my life ever since I can remember.

She started working at the candy shop the year I was born in 1950.

She was a member of the same church I went to, was a friend of my parents, and worked for first my father, and then for me for decades.

Only taking a short leave when her first child was born, Doris worked with us almost continually until her retirement in December of 2004.

That Doris would stay working for us for more than 40 years would not surprise anyone who knew her.

Doris, in blue, is pictured front and center with the Anderson's Candy Shop crew at an annual Christmas party - late 1990s.
Doris was good at a LOT of things and being consistent, reliable, and willing to stay with a project until the end were hallmarks of her life both at work and at home.

If you wanted something done well and on time, you trusted Doris, whether that was in the Community Church in Richmond or at work here at Anderson’s Candy Shop.

Doris came to work like clockwork, wouldn't hesitate to work late and was not just an example for other employees; she was the standard-setter.

Doris would help out anywhere and with a great attitude. And she was a tremendous teacher.

She taught countless co-workers - adults and teens alike - with patience and personal attention.

And when it did come time for Doris to retire, she helped pick her successor and would not go until she had trained her the right way!

If you are someone who has enjoyed our standard of quality during the past 60 years, much credit is due to Doris.

When I was in grade school, Doris was one of my many “second Mothers” at the candy shop.

Some were the “stern mother” not letting you get away with anything, some were the "fun mothers" that could joke with you and show genuine interest in a kid’s thoughts and ideas.  Some were your secret-keepers, and some were your teachers.

Doris was all of those for me.

If she saw me making a mistake while learning some new skill, she would politely interrupt me and show me a better way.

My brother, Lars, and I would have to report in to the Candy Shop after school on our way home every day and we were not allowed to have much candy.

But I learned that I could stand with my back to the Candy Bar storage shelf and quietly sneak a Pudding bar into my jeans pocket while talking to everybody there.

Doris saw, and would always look the other way.

When I was older and struggled with bigger problems, Doris was there, too.

As a young man, I flunked out of college and had to slink my way back into town and go back to work at the candy shop.

Doris reminded me, in the way that someone who both knows from life experience and who also has my best interests at heart, that it would not do any good to sit and mope about it or hide from it.

She told me, in 1970’s terms, to get over it and get to work.

That people will judge you on what they SEE you doing and how WELL you do it, not on what you did or did not do in school.
She was right.

Doris was a friend -- a true friend.

That seems like an odd thing to say about someone who was my father’s age. But as my brother and I grew into our family business and eventually became Doris’ bosses, she cared every bit as much about how our lives were going and how our kids were doing as she did about those of her age mates.

Knowing Doris for so long, we also got to see her as a real, steadfast friend to others under the most trying circumstances.

She became friend, adviser, and eventually, caretaker to one of her coworkers, Laura Wiedrich.

Laura could be one of the most cantankerous people you have ever met. She was old enough to be Doris’ mother. She never married and had only lived in one house for her entire 65 years.

Laura also had dozens of cats and they all lived inside with her.

Most people could not stand more than a minute in her house. But Doris treated Laura with respect and kindness.

Doris would warn Laura if her wardrobe smelled, she would do her hair for her every month, she would shop with and for her, and, as Laura’s health declined, Doris would drive Laura to appointments.

Doris always treated Laura with dignity.

And, when Laura died suddenly, and I was named executor to her estate, Doris stepped in with immeasurably valuable help and expected nothing in return.

It was the right thing to do.

And you could always count on Doris to do the right thing.

Although it is true that Doris was quite adept at the glasses-down-her-nose glare to reinforce a point, she ultimately had a happy face.

It was a face shaped by years of smiling and good humor, by interest in everyone she met, and always by looking forward with anticipation, not backward with regret, because she KNEW that she could make a difference.

It was an honor to know and be shaped by such a wonderful person. And image is the picture of Doris I will always see, whenever I think of her.

Your thoughts and prayers of support for Doris' family are deeply appreciated. Follow this link for an obituary:

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Trees - Shaping Us and Saying Goodbye

EDITORS NOTE: This summer, we will say good bye to an old friend. The giant Norway Spruce that has been an important part of the landscape of Richmond and our candy shop, since 1926. The tree is dying. And although it pains us tremendously, we have been advised by several arborists that the best thing to do is to take it down. The following is a eulogy of sorts written by my father - third generation candymaker Leif Anderson. I hope you can take a few minutes to read his story. And please, come help us give the old Spruce a grand send off on June 28 at our Customer Appreciation and Good-bye Tree Party. Details here:

Humans have been shaping the world around them for eons – clearing forests, rerouting streams, building cities – but every once in a while we are reminded of how the world shapes us.

Our customers, friends, and family, here at Anderson's Candy Shop are probably unaware of how two trees quite literally shaped our store on Route 12 in Richmond.

When my grandpa Arthur Anderson moved his shop from Armitage Ave. in Chicago out to Main St. (there was no U.S. Rt. 12 then) and bought the property our shop sits on today, it was a pretty barren piece of land -- a pasture with a big old farmhouse.

In that time, before air conditioning of course, he planted a maple tree on the southeast side of the farmhouse and a Norway spruce on the northeast side.

My then 7-year-old father, Raynold, helped plant those trees.

The trees and the family grew. Arthur watched his son marry, fight in World War II and have children of his own.

He also watched the trees grown strong and tall, providing cool shade in the morning and early afternoon. The trees provided something else, too, that I'm not sure Grandpa planned on.

The trees became inseparable from the building and the familiar image of the business.

The maple became a large, dense, splash of green that greeted all of the northbound travelers as they came up the hill from Illinois in the summertime headed towards Lake Geneva and other Wisconsin destinations.

In the fall, it became a riot of red and orange providing a beautiful colored canopy to sit under and enjoy as the tourists traveled home.

And for two young boys – Leif and Lars (my brother) – the maple was a childhood friend. We grew up playing hide and seek around it using its large trunk to conceal our then tiny frames.

The spruce - the silent partner in the arboreal couple - became dearer to me as I grew.

It has been included in every picture of the shop we have had commissioned or that has been bestowed upon us. It has also been in the picture on all of our chocolate boxes since the 1970's.

The tallest thing in town outside of the water tower, the spruce has always provided the primary shade for our office upstairs - an area I spent more time in as my mother and father transitioned out and my brother and I came further into running the business.

The spruce's branches and the dozens of birds and squirrels who inhabit them, have also been there for me and my wife to gaze out upon during hard times when we didn't know if we'd make it another year and for happier moments, too.

When my brother and I decided to expand our Richmond shop in the year 2000 and had to have the maple tree removed to make way for our growing families and business expansion, the spruce took on a more prominent role.

The bench that once gave customers a shady place to rest under the maple tree moved to the other side of our building and now sits under the giant gently sloping branches of the spruce.

It is an almost Hobbit-like space providing a cozy privacy in plain sight in contrast to the “showcase” seating under the maple tree.

For the past 15 years now I have enjoyed the new respite spot - sumptuous and serene.

While both trees have been important supporting roles in my personal story, they have also literally shaped the way our shop looks today.

When my grandfather Arthur Anderson put on the first showroom edition to his candy-shop-farmhouse circa 1930 the sides of the front of the building were angled 45 degrees to accommodate anticipated growth of the then-baby trees.

Shade, he decided, was more important than squaring off the corners of the building.

I can imagine him - standing outside. There was no architect involved. It was just a shop owner and a carpenter standing in front and talking about how to add enough space at a reasonable price.

I wonder if he knew then he was creating the angles that our customers have told us for years are “cute” and add “personality” for the shop.

And so it was then, in 1930, when Arthur made the call to leave the trees and build around them, that the shop, the trees and our family became business partners.

Unfortunately later this summer, this blog will be all that is left of this partnership.

The spruce is dying.

Its species has a normal age span of about 60 years and it has already given us 25 years beyond that.

And after consultation with two arborists, we have come to accept that the inevitable time is at hand and we must say our last goodbyes.

Although we are heartbroken, we are also thankful to have the time to give our stalwart friend a fitting farewell and plan to do that officially on Saturday, June 28 with a Good-bye Tree Event.

And we would love your help.

We plan to take a group picture in front of the spruce tree at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, June 28.

Anyone who has been a friend or neighbor to the shop is invited as are all of our current and past employees and their families.

Our customers and fans are also invited (don't worry we will use a wide lens!) Especially if you are a member of one of our families of customers who have been stopping by the shop for multiple generations.

And if you can't come to the party on the 28th, please come and take your picture with the tree anytime.

My goal is to help the Spruce to create one more indelibly good memory for all of us before he goes.

                                 ---         ---                   ---          ---                     ---     ---
 If you have any stories or photos to share of the shop, the building, the family, the tree or our chocolates, please share them with us at or on our Facebook page!

Friday, March 7, 2014

An experiment in communication - prices in 2014

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is an open letter to our customers to help you understand some recent price changes in our product line. Some of our chocolates have slightly increased in price, some have been reduced, and many have remained the same as last year's prices. As all business do from time to time, we have made price adjustments in an effort to remain viable. We appreciate your continued support and if you have any questions about the following, feel free to contact third-generation owner, my father, Leif Anderson at 1-888-214-7914 or

Dear Friends and Fans,

During our business's 90+ year history, never has an owner reached out and explained a price change.
Price changes are a natural and necessary part of the retail world. In fact, you've undoubtedly experienced increases already this year in almost every product you buy from gas to milk.

However, with the help of my daughters, I've realized that the Internet - specifically our blog and Facebook - has taken our relationship with our customers to a new and more intimate level allowing us to communicate more frequently and in more detail than we ever have before. 

In this communication, I'd like to walk you through some of the highlights of our pending price changes.

First and foremost, we feel you need to know that the price we pay for chocolate has gone up more than twelve percent this year.

We do our best to keep our chocolate costs low, purchasing our bulk chocolate on the futures market and shopping for the lowest prices.

However, you may have noticed in the news lately that due to weather in the parts of the world where the cocoa bean is grown, compounded by a growing demand for chocolate amongst emerging markets like China, the cost of chocolate has risen significantly.
Despite the increased costs we are bearing, our largest price increase throughout our entire product line will only be about 6 percent. Many products won't see a change at all.

We have tried hard to find ways to cut costs and streamline to make that possible.
There are some parts of our business, however, we will not compromise on. We feel these aspects are important to who we are and what makes our chocolate great – however these elements do also affect the cost of our candy.

First, we will not alter the ingredients we use. Since our founding in 1919, we have been dedicated to delivering the highest quality product to you and we believe that depends on using the highest quality ingredients like our Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla, Grade A Extra Fancy Pineapple and whole Junior Mammoth Pecans.

We use the best nuts, the best cream, the best chocolate, the best flavorings you can get.

Also, because we feel it directly affects the quality of our candy, and because we believe in the power of small businesses to put people to work – we will continue to employ real humans to cook, dip in chocolate, package the products we sell. 

The average candy bar we sell was worked on by five different people before it made it to your mouth and we are proud of this.

We feel our employees deserve to be compensated for the skilled labor they provide our business and the excellent customer service we expect each one to provide to you. 

Where will you notice the price changes?
You will notice an increase reflected in some of our boxed chocolates and in most of our candy bar selection.

There are three candy bars – solid, toffee and oreos – which we opted to keep at 2013 prices.

And, to assure your satisfaction with the product you receive when you buy one of our bars, the Mint Chip, Meltaway Cream, Pudding, Coconut, Marzipan, and Buttercream bars are all undergoing makeovers which will make them a more comparable size to the rest of our bar selection.

In addition, you may also notice that the following fudges will all reduce in price by 20 cents this March - costing $2.75, which reflects 2011 prices. This list includes Old Tyme Fudge Bars, Pralines,
Cream Fudge Bars, and Meltaway Fudge Bars.

 Also, our half-pound containers of Old Tyme Fudge and Wrapping Caramels will be reduced by $2.00 per box- from $9.50 to $7.95.

What about Easter chocolates?
The good news is that to thank you for your loyalty during this change, most of our Easter line has been reduced in price over last year. This was possible for us because we have found ways to reduce cost labor and pass that on to you.

Our Solid Chocolate Rabbits have gone down an average of a $1.00 and the medium and large size bunny prices have been reduced by an average of $2.00 each!

We have also decided not to increase the price of our Cream Eggs or non-chocolate novelties, this spring.
Just like everyone of you we have also experienced significant increases in transportation and insurance costs and in utilities but I think this about covers the things that are most unique to our business. 
Thank you all for your support over the years and for taking the time to read this.
 If you appreciated this explanation or have further questions, please let me know.  I think that, for today, my experiment with using this tool to talk with all of you is finished.
Thanks again for your time, consideration and support. From my family to yours,
Take care,

Leif R. Anderson, third generation candymaker  

Monday, August 26, 2013

Fooling Aunt Ester

EDITOR'S NOTE: We've added a few employees to our roster this summer and one of the things I've told each during training is, "get ready to hear some great stories!" Our customers are loyal, interesting and genuinely funny people who, more often than not, are great story-tellers. For this month's post I wanted to share an example. Jim Kellogg of Lake Barrington, IL recently stopped in our Barrington shop and related the following tale about how he tricked his dear Aunt Ester into becoming a fan of our chocolates. The following is written by Mr. Kellogg himself. I hope you enjoy his story as much as we did.


Jim Kellogg,
customer since about 1980
"My elderly Aunt Ester was very particular about what she purchased and where she purchased it from.

She would rather have a pair of socks from Marshall Fields than a mink coat from Sears.

Ester came over from England when she was 12 years old and worked as a cook/housekeeper for a family in Detroit until she retired to Winter Park, Florida.
 She loved chocolates but would only eat them if they were from Fannie May. 

When she visited us one year,  I drove up to Richmond and bought a box of chocolates from Anderson’s Candy Shop. Aunt Ester wouldn’t touch them.  She wouldn’t even try a single one.  

It irritated me.

So I waited until she had emptied her Fannie May box.  I put the Anderson’s Chocolates in the Fannie May box and gave it to her the next morning.

She ate every one of them over the next several days.
Aunt Ester
Then she asked me to take her to Fannie May to buy some more chocolate.

I dropped her at the door and parked the car.  As I walked in, she was loudly complaining to the woman behind the counter, “Where are the good chocolates?  Why don’t you have the good chocolates anymore?".

I had to confess to her that I had switched chocolates.

Afterward, as long as she lived, Ester would send me money to go to Richmond and buy 8 boxes of Anderson’s chocolates and ship them to her home in Florida so she could give her closest friends “the best chocolates” for Christmas. 

I never asked how many boxes actually got to her friends."

Thank you again, Jim, for sharing this great story. And as a reminder to our other friends and fans, we love to hear and share what you have to say, so shoot us an email with your story and pictures at!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

How Filbert became Hazelnut

EDITORS NOTE: In this blog I aim to share what it is like to grow up in, and work at Anderson's Candy Shop through stories about our family, customers and our chocolates.

My two favorite aspects of my job are collaborating and goofing around with my sister, Susanne and being able to interact with our customers.

This blog... well, it showcases my two favorite things and lets you in on some recent drama at the shop surrounding a little-known nut. This post is based on a true story. There is a real customer named Michael Hedrick and he really did give us a $20 bill. We got a little creative from there. I hope you enjoy!

Meet Filbert.

He’s round (chubby, some say), with pale skin and brown freckles.  

He’s earnest and follows the rules (maybe a bit na├»ve).  He doesn't quite fit in, a bit of a square peg in a round hole – or in this case, a round peg in a square hole.  He’s nervous a lot.

Filbert also happens to be a nut that we at Anderson’s dip in chocolate and sell in candy bar form. And, for a long, long time, Filbert has been very unpopular.

He just doesn't fit in with the rest of the nuts.

Brazil is tall, handsome and foreign; Cashew deliciously curvy with a golden brown tan; Pecan has delicate, symmetrical folds and Almond is just everyone’s favorite.

With competition like that, who wouldn't be nervous?

But Filbert dreams of more. 

He dreams of achieving his inner potential.

Filbert dreams of transcending his small, freckled stature and showing the world what a robust, smooth flavor he has.

He may not taste like the other nuts, but that is his strength. He is unique and he dreams of one day standing up and boldly saying, “Add me to your chocolates! No longer will I apologize for my roundness!  CALL ME HAZELNUT!”

We Anderson’s have talked of Filbert’s potential, but we haven’t been able to bring it out – until now – until we met Michael Hedrick.

Michael Hedrick of Barrington
With one gesture, Michael changed the course of Filbert's destiny and crossed over from good customer, into the territory of customer of legend.

On a recent trip to our Richmond shop Michael met Filbert.

While Michael is typically more interested in our fruit selection – apricot and coconut are among his favorites – he inquired on that trip about Filbert.

As he gazed down through the glass of the candy bar case at our selection of chocolates, his eyes passed over the nut section and he asked one of our employees, Barb, a question that got straight to the heart of the matter:

“What is filbert?” he mused.

Barb, having known filbert a very long time, told Michael that Filbert was also sometimes known around the shop as Hazelnut.

Fascinated by the fact that such a dynamic little nut had been hiding in the bar case right in front of him for so long, Michael wondered why Filbert hadn't let the world know who he was inside.

“What would it take to let Filbert be Hazelnut?” Michael asked Barb.

“You stamp each bag with the candy bar’s name – is all it would take to make the change buying a new stamp?”

Skeptically, Barb replied, “Yes.  But I’m not sure Filbert will ever change.”

About a month passed and unable to stay away, Michael found his way into our Barrington shop and visited Filbert.

Michael felt compelled to give Filbert the push he needed to realize his true potential. Micahel knew that Filbert had everything it takes to be a star, what he needed was an image makeover and someone to fund it.

After checking out with his bag full of chocolates, Michael approached Katie about Filbert's situation and offered to fund Filbert's metamorphosis.

Michael handed Katie a fresh, crisp twenty dollar bill and said those words that Filbert had so longed to hear, “Buy a Hazelnut stamp.”

It was a long road, but clad in his new label the Hazelnut that was there all along finally came out. 

He isn't nervous around his peers anymore.

He’s proud to be the round little nut with the big, smooth flavor.

They say the clothes make the man, and in this case, the stamp made the nut.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Becoming a Candy Shop Anderson

Editor's Note: While there are only a few Anderson's running the business in Richmond these days, the Anderson family has many members who have at one time worked for the candy shop. Each has their own special connection to it - and their own great stories! Check out this latest post written by my cousin through marriage, Christy. She shares here about her experiences getting to know the business and marrying into the family. It is a unique, charming and at times very funny perspective which I thoroughly enjoyed and hope you do to. 

I have always been an Anderson.

I am Christy, the wife of Adrian Anderson (son of Lars Anderson, nephew to Leif Anderson - third generation owner of Anderson's Candy Shop). And, although I married into the Candy Shop family in 1999, I have always been an Anderson. I was born to Sharon and Roger Anderson of Minnesota.

Adrian Anderson (one of the fourth-generation of Anderson's Candy Shop kids) and I, met our freshman year of college at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. PeterMinnesota. It is a little Swedish, liberal arts school so I suppose it is not surprising that my maiden name and my married name are both Anderson, but it still provides a great party story explaining how there are Andersons galore in our combined family tree! 
Andersons. We are not related…we checked. ;)

Shortly after meeting Adrian my first fall at Gustavus, I specifically remember a walk we took around campus before we were officially dating. As we got to know each other, I told him about my life growing up in southern Minnesota, and he told me about his life in Richmond, Illinois.

It was during this part of the conversation that he, without skipping a beat, said, “Oh and my family owns a candy store, they make handmade chocolates.” 

I then forgot everything he had said before and think to myself, “WHAT?????????  YOU CAN’T BE SERIOUS, I LOVE CHOCOLATE!!!!!”  

This honestly seemed too good to be true, was he just trying to impress me?

I regained my composure and said - all cool and collected, “What? Really? Like they make actual chocolate candies?”  

He looked at me funny and said, “Umm…yes, ACTUAL chocolates.”

I remember running back to my dorm and telling any of the girls that would listen, “I took a walk with that guy I met a few weeks ago, Adrian, and guess what? His family owns a candy store and they make chocolates.  Like, I am talking a full blown chocolate factory!” 

My friends, after the Willy Wonka jokes, were amazed and with a smirk one friend said, “Well, can you imagine if you and Adrian got married … you will never have to change your name AND that is free chocolate for life?”  

Sounded like the perfect deal to me!

Lars Anderson and his son Adrian Anderson.
During that infamous walk in October - after I got over a little bit of disbelief that he actually had real, live chocolatiers in his family - I could see the candy store was a huge part of Adrian's life.

Adrian talked with such pride about the generations before him that built the family business.  He told me how he and his brother, Colin, would go to the candy store after school each day and how he would watch his father and uncle cook candy while they all watched afternoon Cubs games together and he did homework.

Adrian told me how much fun it was to be able to see his grandparents every day after school and that he valued the connection that comes with a long-standing family business.

I thought, well, this certainly all sounds amazing, and, I have to get me some of this chocolate. 

About six months later, we drove from Minnesota to Illinois to meet his family. I was a bit nervous but again, so excited to eat some of this chocolate!

We arrived in Richmond and soon after stopped at the candy store and entered through the storefront.

(18 years later, I now know that family really only enters through the back door. Although Adrian will deny this, I still stand by that he was testing the waters; only if all went well would I be allowed in through the aforementioned door ;)) 

Anyway, we walked in and it was everything I had envisioned: wonderful smells, candy galore, historical pictures of on the wall…

We poked around a bit and then I heard a boisterous voice, “Welcome to Andersons!”  Then a quick, “Ahhh Adrian!”  It was the infamous Uncle Leif, who quickly came around the counter and gave Adrian a huge hug. 

Leif looked at me and said, “Hello Christy…I’m Uncle Leif” and then proceeded to give me a hug as well. I was already starting to feel part of the chocolate family.

We then went back to where all of the candy is stored, it was something I had never seen…. candy getting packed into boxes, pretzels being dipped in chocolate, large melting pots of chocolate, it seemed like a chocolate lovers paradise, what am I saying, it WAS a chocolate lovers paradise. 

We meandered our way through the building and I next saw a room filled with more chocolate Easter bunnies than I had ever seen in my life. All sizes, shapes, white and dark and I thought oh my goodness, I hope Adrian is "the one" because I simply can not imagine having this chocolate at my disposal for LIFE!?

We wandered further back and out of one of the rooms came an older woman wearing an Anderson’s apron. She had just finished making a few of these gorgeous chocolate bunnies.

This woman took one look at Adrian, grabbed him and said, “I am so happy you are home.”

I knew immediately this was Grandma Vi.  She looked at me and with a big smile said, “I’m very happy to meet you. Adrian has already told us all so much about you.”  

She went on to compliment my hair, my eyes, my sweater, my shoes, pretty much everything and I, of course, immediately fell in love with her too!

We spent hours that day just sitting in the candy store, chatting with Leif, Lars, Grandma Vi, Grandpa Raynold and the rest of the Anderson’s staff. They told me comical stories from Adrian's childhood and I realized quickly why this was such a special place for him.  Anderson’s was much more than the glorious chocolate for Adrian, it was where he grew up.

Fast forward nearly 18 years.

Adrian and I did get married.  I became an Anderson's-Candy-Shop Anderson in 1999.

We have four blonde, Scandinavian-looking, double Anderson’ed children and are making a wonderful life together.

And, since that first visit, the candy store has become a big part of our relationship and my life as well.

Adrian and I have helped at the candy store, worked out in the concession trailer at county fairs and although our careers have taken us all over the country, we  have done whatever else we could to remain part of the Anderson's Candy Shop family.

Whenever we meet people for the first time Anderson’s Candy Shop is always part of our story and our four kids know all about the candy store. They are so very proud of the history behind Daddy’s family’s business and really, what kid doesn't think it’s cool to have their family own a candy shop?

Today our family lives in Colorado and we do not get to be back in Richmond as much as we would like, but every time we visit the candy store is still a very special place to be for all six of us.

I must say though, now, when we do visit, I enter through the back door.