Thursday, August 4, 2022

Meet Kelly Heersche - part 4



Editor's Note:  Continuing Meet Me Mondays!  I am Britta Malsch, the Purchasing Manager at Anderson's Candy Shop and I also help the Andersons with the social media duties.  As I enter my 10th year at the store, one of my goals has been to help introduce our family of staff to our family of customers.  I hope you enjoy this series which will highlight the wonderful men and women who work hard to create the Anderson's Candy that you love! Fourth in our series is Kelly Heersche. 

Kelly has been a part of the Anderson's Candy Shop Family for 9 years.  Her main role is as the lead milk chocolate dipper in the dipping room however she sometimes helps in the molding room and has recently expanded her skill set by learning how to work in our packing room and helping customers in the storefront.  

Kelly remembers watching seasoned dippers when she first started working at the candy shop and
thinking "How will I ever get my candy to look like that?" 

Kelly's choice of chocolate is milk chocolate, always. 

Something Kelly thinks would surprise customers about how our candy is made is that it is hand dipped into a "bed of chocolate" on marble slabs built into an old dining table, 
handcrafted by the Anderson Family. 

Fond memories for Kelly consist of laughter in the dipping room and the connections she 
has made with guests in the store. 

Kelly's favorite holiday to work at the candy shop is Christmas.  "I love the season and how busy it is."  "I really don't have a least favorite season, I would have said summer, but this year is different because I am in the storefront for some of it and get to meet all of you and see how happy you are 
when you get your favorite candy." 

On her days off, Kelly enjoys spending time with family and visiting friends.  
She also enjoys sewing and painting. 


Meet Britta Malsch - part 3

Editor's Note: Continuing Meet Me Mondays!  I am Britta Malsch, the Purchasing Manager at Anderson's Candy Shop and I also help the Andersons with social media duties.  As I enter my 10th year at the store, one of my goals has been to help introduce our family of staff to our family of customers.  I hope you enjoy this series which will hightlight all the wonderful men and women who work hard to create the Anderson's Candy that you love!  Third in our series, is me, Britta Malsch. 

I have been a part of the Anderson's Candy Shop Family for over 9 years.  Currently I work part time and from home as the Purchasing Manager / Web Site and Social Media Moderator.  In the past 9 years I have also worked in the molding room as well as managed the packing room.  

The first thing I remember doing when I started working at the candy shop was stamping bar bags and putting away candy.  I also remember during one of my first shifts, packaging English Toffee into plastic tubs and putting the wrong stickers on the lids.  

Something I think will surprise customers about how our candy is made is how many hands each piece and bar pass before it's sold.  "It has to be cooked and made by one person, cut and rolled by another, dipped by one dipper, put away and packed possibly by two different people all before it's put onto shelves to be sold." 

I have come to appreciate dark chocolate over the rest, it wasn't always that way.  Working here and getting to experience delicious candy, I made the switch and haven't looked back.  

A fond memory I can recall is working Christmas Eve shifts, which are voluntary.  "We get so busy and would try to shut the door several times when we were suppose to close, but would end up letting in at least three more customers to finish or sometimes start their Christmas shopping."

My favorite holiday to work at the candy shop is Christmas, "the rush of the season is so fun and working on special orders we only usually get once a year makes the season that much more challenging, and I really enjoy it."  My least favorite holiday is Valentine's Day.  "It's the most forgotten and shortest, making it quite stressful to set up the store, make and sell heart boxes and take it all down to get ready for Easter."

On my days off I enjoy being home with my three young kids, shuttling them around to their activities.  As a family, we also enjoy attending and showing antique tractors, steam traction engines specifically, at different shows in Wisconsin and Illinois.

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Meet Colleen Vineyard - part 2

 Editor's Note:  Continuing Meet Me Mondays!  I am Britta Malsch, the Purchasing Manager at Anderson's Candy Shop and I also help the Andersons with the social media duties.  As I enter my 10th year at the store, one of my goals has been to help introduce our family of staff to our family of customers.  I hope you enjoy this series which will highlight the wonderful men and women who work hard to create the Anderson's Candy that you love!  The second in our series is Colleen Vineyard. 


Colleen has been a part of Anderson's Candy Shop for more than 32 years and has worked with three generations of Andersons (Raynold & Violet, Leif, Tracy & Lars and now Katie, Zach, Ethan and Aaron)!  Colleen works in the dipping room. She is extremely accomplished at the art and science of hand dipping. She creates hundreds of chocolate pieces and candy bars each week. Her work is beautiful, uniform and fast!

The first thing Colleen remembers doing at the candy shop was watching other employees dip - moving puddles of chocolate around the marble, warming up and cooling down the chocolate so it would hold a mark on the pieces. 

"If you liked playing in the mud as a kid and making mud pies, you might like dipping candy," she jokes. "Smells better and the taste is so much better!" 

Something Colleen thinks would surprise customers about the candy shop is that after more than 100 years in business, all of the candy is still handmade. Not cooked or enrobed by machine, and that it's been made the same way since 1919.

She can remember before she worked for the candy shop, she also thought the candy was produced and consumed always all on the same day - more in the style of a donut shop or restaurant. 

"Being a customer once and young, I thought everything was made the same day it was sold and when they ran out they closed."

She thought this because many years ago, during Christmas season, the shop would close periodically unless you were a customer coming to pick up a previously placed order.

A few more fun tidbits about Colleen include:

- She prefers milk chocolate unless the center is peppermint, coconut or raspberry mallow, then she prefers dark chocolate!

- Some of Colleen's fondest memories include training others to dip.
"When you have a willing person that is eager to learn and not assuming they know or are doing it right when not," she explains "Everyone looks at us dipping and thinks it's easy because we make it look that way, when it isn't.  I take pride in my work and I want them to do well and succeed."

Colleen was taught by Anderson's Employee Hall of Fame member Anita Miller.

"I have had the honor of taking her place and I take that roll very serious.  If she saw me doing something wrong all she would say is "what are you doing", and I would totally stop and say "what?" and proceed telling her and she'd correct me.  I wanted to be the best and good at it and worked hard to be.  Met great people and are still friends with many that have moved on."

Colleen doesn't care for the stress of any of the shop's major busy holiday seasons but she loves doing what she does and always does her best.  Colleen does enjoy the last day of each holiday season, when the long hours end and she earns her pay!  

On her days off Colleen like gardening flowers and might try a few veggies next year.

She likes to swim at her sister's, relax on her patio or porch in the morning with coffee, bird watching, going out to lunch or dinner with friends.  She also enjoys crafty things like wood painting, flower arranging, wreaths, drawing, some reading, puzzles, sudoku, some gambling and being around good people.  She loves animals and spending time with her kids, their ladies and her husband. 

Meet Barb Popenhagen - part 1

Editor's Note: Introducing Meet Me Mondays! I am Britta Malsch, the Purchasing Manager at Anderson's Candy Shop. I also help the Anderson's with social media duties. As I enter my 10th year at the store, one of my goals has been to help introduce our family of staff to our family of customers. I hope you enjoy this series which will highlight the wonderful men and women who work hard to create the Anderson's Candy that you love! The first in our series is Barb Popenhagen.

Barb Popenhagen has been a part of the Anderson's Candy Shop Family for more than 37 years.

Barb started before the gift shop was added to the Richmond store and has been an integral part of growing the business through its second, third and fourth generations.

Barb has worn many hats at the shop including helping as a buyer of gifts to sell in Anderson's former Crystal Lake location and also for the gift store in Richmond.

Barb has served as a sales person, a store manager and a supply manager during her time at the shop. Although she has retired from full time hours, she still works seasonally, packaging hundreds upon hundreds of orders for pick-up and mailing during Christmas, Easter and Valentine's Day!

Barb is THE KEEPER OF STANDARDS (and we are grateful!) when it comes to customer service, quality control and fulfilling orders. 

The first thing Barb remembers doing for Anderson's was putting freshly made candy away and waiting on customers in the store the day after Valentine’s Day. Raynold Anderson, our shop's second generation leader was her teacher.

Here are a few other fun tidbits from Barb!
 - Something Barb thinks would surprise customers to know about the candy shop is how few people actually work behind the scenes to create all that candy! Also, she thinks it would surprise people to know that each piece of our candy is actually dipped "one at a time" and not "in a machine like on I Love Lucy or Youtube!"

- Barb's MILK Chocolate Pick =  pecans, date coconut, divinity, and her favorite - Snappers!

- Barb's DARK Chocolate Picks = coconut, buttercream and the seasonal mint Oreos.

- Barb's favorite holiday to work at the Shop is Christmas! “We always get it done with so many happy customers.”

- One of Barbs fondest memories is when a local veterinarian who couldn’t get some circus elephants to take their medicine came to Anderson's and requested the shop make some large chocolate peanut clusters to hide the medicine in!

Other memorable incidents includes a customer asking Barb if we “shorten pants?” She said “I’ll have to check.” - She went in the back and asked the dippers if they wanted to help this guy out - no takers! And a few others included hidden engagement rings in candy boxes and sending a box of candy to a funeral for Mom to have a “sweet journey” to heaven.

Barb now uses her time off to spend more time with her family and friends.

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.

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 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!