Iconic Sweets

Photos by Kamala Kirk

See’s Candies are an especially popular choice to give as gifts to friends, family and colleagues during this time of year. In fact, its treats have become a holiday tradition for many. Open for almost a century, See’s has expanded to more than 200 locations throughout the United States, ensuring that customers across the country have the opportunity to enjoy the quality chocolates and candies for which the company has become known.

See’s iconic black-and-white checkered décor was inspired by the kitchen of Mary See, who made candy in the kitchen of her post-Victorian bungalow on Marengo Avenue in Pasadena. Using his mother’s candy recipes as the cornerstone of his business, her son Charles founded See’s Candies in 1921. Many of Mary’s original recipes are still served to this day.

See’s Candies has two kitchens—the Culver City location and its San Francisco kitchen makes the candy for the entire country. Both stores also make candy that is distributed in stores and kiosks across the country. Actress Lucille Ball even went to the See’s factory in Los Angeles to learn how to make candy for one of the most famous episodes of “I Love Lucy.”

See’s prides itself on producing seasonal offerings in addition to its usual well-loved merchandise. “Every holiday we try to offer something different and new, and we only have certain pieces that come out at certain times of the year, which makes See’s special in that way,” said Stella Garcia, manager of the South Pasadena location.  “This year we’ve come out with lots of different items, including tins, dishes, and a new Christmas Memories Box,” she added.

Some of the special limited-edition seasonal flavors and treats this year include Egg Nog Truffles, White Mint Truffles, Chocolate Mint Truffles, Fudge, Victoria Toffee and Maple Cashew Brittle. The popular lollipops are available in flavors like Butterscotch, Café Latte, Vanilla and Chocolate, as well as a limited-edition Mint Cream that will be available until Christmas, and Cinnamon which will be available until Valentine’s Day.

See’s offers a variety of gift options in addition to its traditional one-pound and two-pound boxes: there are pre-packaged gift boxes filled with different combinations of chocolates and sweets; customizable boxes and gift baskets; lollypop iterations; peanut brittle; canisters filled with Almond Royal and Toffee-ettes; sugar-free offerings; gift certificates; and so much more. One special item, known as the Gift of Elegance, is an incredible statement gift—it is a four-pound box of candy that comes in a gold box tied with a satin ribbon.

“Customers will compare us to every candy that’s out there, but they’ll always come back to us,” said Garcia, who has been a See’s employee for 29 years. “It sells itself. We don’t use any preservatives and all of our ingredients are fresh. Our customers are dedicated to See’s and they enjoy a good piece of candy.”

See’s also has a fundraising department, so various organizations can contact the company in order to receive a special price on bulk orders, which they can then sell at a profit for special events and occasions.

“Our main focus is on customer service, because we believe that’s what our customers come back for,” said Garcia. “We call them our moments of sweetness. They come for the candy, but they want the service that is part of our tradition at See’s. We have generations of people come in, and everybody wants to share stories about how See’s was a part of their life growing up. This community is great—everyone has welcomed us with open arms. People come in here and always leave in a better mood, which makes us feel good.”

See’s Candies is located at 464 Fair Oaks Ave in South Pasadena. Its holiday hours are: Dec 15 from 9:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., Dec 16 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Dec 17-22 from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., Dec 23 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Dec 24 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, call (626) 799-2180 or visit sees.com.

See’s Candies Business Spotlight appeared in the print edition of the South Pasadena Review on 12.14.18. Support Local Business.