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.