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.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Winning mom over - "seconds" and a lifetime of love

Editor's Note: I love a good love story. I also love hearing about how the candy my family has been making for four generations has played a part in our customers' lives. This blog combines both. The following is an excerpt from an email we received during Christmas time at the candy shop. It was written by long-time Anderson's customer Nancy Meyer to my father, Leif Anderson.

Meyer claims that her four adult sons owe "their very existence" to Anderson's Candy Shop. We found her message delightful and very touching. 

Because we enjoyed Meyer's tale, and because that most-romantic-of-holiday's is right around the corner, we thought you would enjoy Nancy's story, too.

Thank you Nancy, for sharing, and without further ado ... the words of Mrs. Meyer.

Aloha Mr Anderson. It was good speaking to you as I ordered candy for my 4 adult sons who owe their very existence to your shop.

As I related to you, my husband Charles Meyer was the son of Julia and Gerhard Meyer who owned the Meyer Tourist rooms at the south end of Richmond in the 1950's.

Young and in love - Nancy Mellor and Chuck Meyer.

Charles aka Chuck went away to college in Madison, Wisconsin and mutual friends introduced us.

At the time, I lived just outside of Madison and my mother was not particularly enthusiastic about my college boy suitor UNTIL after one fated trip home to Richmond when he returned with a gift for Mom.

It was a box of Anderson's Candy and the reaction was remarkable.

It melted all of Mom's resistance to Chuck.

Nancy's grandfather
Charles Johnson aka Dutch
Mom had memories of your establishment going back to her childhood in Chicago. Her father would borrow a friend's open top car and drive up to your business -- this would have been in the 20's as Mom was born in 1915.

Money was definitely not plentiful for them so my grandfather would buy bags full of "seconds" and take them back to Chicago to enjoy.

Mom had such good memories of those treks and the candy that all resistance to Chuck melted when she realized that he was the way to tap those childhood memories once again.


Chuck and I were married 47 years before he died in 2006.

Nancy Meyer and Charles Meyer - happily married.

We had four sons, the people who will receive the candy ordered today.

Throughout our life together Chuck and I lived mainly in Michigan but also in Belgium, France and Japan. But any visit back to the area would absolutely have to include a stocking-up stop at Anderson's.

We bought for ourselves and the sons all remember the time in your shop as fondly as they were each allowed to choose their own personal candy bars.

During each stop, we'd often tell the story of Mom and her "seconds" and ask the clerk if perhaps there were any second of any kind to be had that day.

Nancy's mother Betty Johnson Storie

On more than one occasion the clerk would quietly reach over and thump on a bar that would, of course, break, and say "yes, we have a second."

We would take Mom her second and she would enjoy her childhood memories once again.

Mom enjoyed her last second during the summer of 2004 and died the next year.


I do think the existence of your business was quite influential in lessening my Mom's resistance to the brash young college man I had taken a fancy to all those years ago, and therefore is part of the reason we were able to survive our courtship, marry and raise four sons who have their feet firmly planted in the Midwest no matter where else they might live.

Thanks for being part of our lives.

- Nancy Meyer

Nancy Meyer and her sons William (Bill), Steven (Steve), Scott, and Andrew (Andy).