When my sixteen-year-old sister comes to visit, it’s a challenge figuring out what we might enjoy together without breaking my bank, because her favorite thing to do and my least favorite thing to do – is shop. This time, I was sure I had a winner: a free tour at one of America’s oldest candy factories.
In 1920 candy-making apprentice Carl T. Hammond, Sr. created his first original recipe: Honey KoKos, chocolate candies topped with coconut. With that, he founded Hammond’s Candy Company. At first, Carl did it all: developing candy recipes, making candy, and selling candy.
His business flourished in the Roaring Twenties and survived the Great Depression. In fact, the 1930’s is when a friend of Carls’ invented Hammond’s signature candy: a bite-sized marshmallow covered in caramel. Carl named it after his friend: the Mitchell Sweet, and it’s still Hammond’s most popular sweet today. Today Hammond’s Candies is a wholesaler that sells to such retailers as Nordstrom’s, Dean & Deluca, and William Sonoma.
Miraya and I enjoyed watching candy makers pull, twist, and shape by hand the hot confections that would become candy canes and lollipops. When I saw a packager pulling chocolates off a conveyor belt, it reminded me of the I Love Lucy episode when Lucy and Ethel worked in the candy factory and the manager yelled, “Speed it up a little!”
I was disappointed that we could only watch from afar through glass windows. But it was still entertaining, and even educational. For example, I didn’t know:
– The longer hot candy spins on a mechanized candy puller, the lighter the color.
– Hard candy is made primarily from sugar, corn syrup and water.
– Hammond’s Candies goes through 30,000 pounds of corn syrup a month.
– Candy-makers work in a kitchen that reaches up to 110 degrees.
– Hammond’s cooks train from 1 ½ to 3 years before they take charge of making candy batches, because they have to learn to roll and pull it just right.
I learned something else: there’s no such thing as a free candy factory tour. This one has an old-fashioned candy shop at the end, where Miraya finally hit on the kind of shopping I do like: buying chocolate. We bought a half-pound, plus souvenirs. How’s the candy? As Miraya put it, “It’s good, but it’s not as good as See’s.” But then See’s doesn’t have a Denver factory and doesn’t offer free tours.
So if you’re a candy lover whose looking for some lazy fun in Denver, I’d say the Hammond’s Factory Tour is an interesting, tasty way to while away an hour. You can always hike it off tomorrow.
Here’s a quick peek to show you what I mean: