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Friday, December 26, 2014

The "A Christmas Treat" Story

The candy cane dates back over 350 years.  The original candy cane
was straight and white in color.  In 1670 the choirmaster of the Cologne
Cathedral in Germany bent the canes to represent a shepherd's staff.  The
white candy canes were given to children during nativity services.
It was an ordinary day.  Just opened a few of the gifts my wife bought for me for Christmas.  One of them was a box of three rather large Ham- mond's classic handcrafted candy canes.  Well, I just had to do some investigating and I found a pretty neat history that surrounds the Hammond's Candy Company located in Denver, CO.  Seems that Carl Hammond, the founder of the company, announced to his mother after his first day of high school that he didn't need any more education and he wasn't going back to school the next day.  His mom said fine, but go get a job.  And, he did!  He became an apprentice in a candy factory.  In 1920, after several years of learning the candy trade, he founded his own candy company.  
A photo story page of the Hammond Company
His first original creation was a Honey Ko Kos which was a chocolate topped with shredded coconut.  Eventually he hired someone to manage the business and he traveled the Wild West selling his candy to stores.  During the Great Depression he still was successful, since people usually found enough of money for a simple treat.  Carl's motto was "Nothing is more important than quality."  His little candy business on Platte River Street in Denver survived the Depression because of that motto.  In the 1930's Carl bought a recipe from a friend for a marshmallow surrounded with caramel. He named it the "Mitchell Sweet", after his friend, and this treat is now the signature candy in the Hammond's line.  In the 1940's Hammond's moved to Bryant Street and West 29th Avenue and his son Tom and daughter-in-law June joined the business.  When Carl passed, Tom continued the prosperous business.  In 1967 Tom purchased a machine that coated treats in chocolate.  His four son's worked for him at one time or another, but his daughter Robin made the business her career.  Robin's husband, Emery Dorsey IV, joined the business and learned the art of candy making from Tom and when Tom passed, Emery took over the candy factory. With the help of Robin and his mother-in-law he carried on the Hammond's tradition for another 16 years.  In 1995 the company evolved into a national name when Williams-Sonoma placed an order for candy.  In 1999 the company was sold and went from a small factory with 10 employees to a building twice the size with 60 employees.  A free tour of the place was begun and an annual Candy Cane Festival began on the first Saturday in December.  To this day the festival is still held.  In 2007, current President Andrew Schuman saw the company as a "sweet" company and managed to double the size of the company to over 120 employees.  Hammond's has been featured on CNBC, in the Wall Street Journal and has had its products featured in magazines and advertisements such as Martha Stewart Living and Everyday with Rachel Ray.  It has been featured on the Food Network as well as spreading world-wide.  And now I am sitting by the Christmas tree eating one of my own Hammond's famous Candy Canes which are hand-crooked and made just for me.  What a neat gift!  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

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