Sweet! Colorado is candy country you and your kids will love
posted by: Mile High Mamas
This Halloween, instead of trying to pass yourself off as a costume- clad grade-schooler or rifling through your kid’s goody bag to claim the Halloween Parent Tax, visit one of Colorado’s prized candymakers to stockpile your own booty before the big night.
Moms and dads will hardly notice that pile of jawbreakers and lollipops once they’ve reserved a private, hidden stash of locally made, Grand Marnier-flavored truffles.
Colorado is home to a smorgasbord of independent confectioners and candy boutiques. Some sell their wares worldwide on the Internet, and Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory franchise stores serve as Colorado’s chocolaty ambassadors to places including Canada and the Virgin Islands.
Many locals fondly remember the red-and-white barn in Wheat Ridge that for decades produced one of the state’s most delicious exports, Jolly Rancher candies. That company was acquired by Hershey in 2002, and the entire manufacturing operation moved to Pennsylvania. The worst part of the move: We lost those awesome factory tours.
But even with the relocation of Jolly Rancher, there are still many local candy companies, some offering tours. Take the kids or don’t; these adventures are like Halloween for adults — and you won’t even need a naughty-nurse costume.
1. The Taffy Shop
When Estes Park tourists aren’t snapping creepy black-and-white photographs of the Stanley Hotel, they mingle with the locals in The Taffy Shop, a long-revered mainstay on the town’s walking tour. An antique-looking machine pulls strands of the sticky stuff in the front window while pulling innocent meanderers in from the sidewalk. You won’t find any fancy truffles or clever candy molds here, just a modest selection of taffy and heaps of old-timey charm. 121 W. Elkhorn Ave., Estes Park
2. Hammond’s Candies
Hammond’s still uses the same recipes and much of the same equipment it began with 90 years ago. Everything is handmade in small batches so that, as chief executive Andrew Schuman says, “you can taste the Americana.” Sample the world-renowned lollipops and ribbon candy on the cheap in Hammond’s Oops Room, a discount ward for damaged yet delicious casualties. Tours are Monday through Saturday; call or visit the website for information. 5735 N. Washington St.; 303-333-5588; hammondscandies.com
3. Roberta’s Chocolates
Put the trick back in trick-or-treat with a chocolate-covered jalepeño from Roberta’s Chocolates. Roberta Poirier, owner of the Denver company, has prepared for Halloween with homemade skull lollipops and candy-corn taffy. She also runs madeincolorado .com, a website that sells an array of local products, including other Colorado candies and edibles. 4840 W. 29th Ave.; 303-824-2069; robertaschocolates.com
4. Carmen’s Kitchen
Ex-nurse and Jamaica native Carmen Massop recently turned her love of cooking into a full-time job. Carmen’s offers walnut, pecan, almond and nut-free toffees featuring milk and dark chocolates. But unless you catch Carmen at a craft or holiday show, the only way to get a taste of these decadent morsels is to order online or over the phone. 303-627-2473; carmenstoffee.com
5. Dietrich’s Chocolate and Espresso
Erich Dietrich started making chocolate as a 14-year-old in his native Germany. Years later he moved to Colorado, purchased a candy store near the University of Denver, and has been satisfying chocolate cravings ever since. In addition to a dizzying assortment of dark, creamy creations like mango truffles and chocolate-covered potato chips, Dietrich’s is ramping up for Halloween with seasonal pumpkin spice truffles. If your chocolate jones has somehow abated, Dietrich’s also offers award- winning breakfasts and lunches. 1734 E. Evans Ave. Denver; 303-777-3358; dietrichs chocolate.com
6. Georgetown Valley Candy Co.
A wide variety of hard candies, saltwater taffy and chocolate creations await you at Georgetown Valley Candy Co. While there are plenty of belt-busting options in this candy paradise, you’d be surprised at the extensive line of sugar-free barks, clusters, taffy and chocolate (note: sugar-free, not calorie-free). Business has been going so well that a second store has been added, in Idaho Springs. Call for tours. 500 Sixth St. Georgetown; 303-569-2778; shopgvcc.com
7. Enstrom’s Almond Toffee
What began in 1929 as an ice cream stand with a curiously popular toffee flavor has evolved into one of the most recognized names in the local sweets biz. There are several spots in the state to bag some of the famous toffee and Denver Mints, but stop by the original converted ice cream factory that started it all, where you can watch the sweets being made behind a glass wall. 701 Colorado Ave., Grand Junction; 970-683-1000; enstrom.com
8. Chocolate Moose
Chocolate Moose is not your average chocolate shop. Headquartered in Fairplay, the company proudly offers a wide-ranging line of sweet, dark treats inspired by the offerings of the surrounding landscape: Bear Poo (chocolate peanut clusters), Moose Droppings (chocolate-covered almonds), Elk Scatter (chocolate malted milk balls), and Buffalo Patties (chocolate coconut patties), just to name a few. Perfect for parties and gag gifts, each bag of so-called little gems promises fresh, hand-picked quality. 532 Front St., Fairplay; maxamoose.com
9. Patsy’s Candies
Patsy’s Candies started in 1903 as a popcorn stand in Manitou Springs. According to family legend, a recipe for caramel corn was lost in a high-stakes poker game to the man who would go on to found Cracker Jack. Mike Niswonger, who co-owns Patsy’s with his family, won’t swear to the authenticity of the Cracker Jack story, but he does swear by Patsy’s chocolate, which he claims is the best anywhere. Tours offered May through September. 1540 S. 21st St., Colorado Springs; 719-633-7215
This Pueblo candy shop does more than just satisfy the sugar cravings of its pint- sized clientele. Taffy’s supplies local schools with handmade cinnamon suckers for fundraising programs, and gives factory tours to starry-eyed students and their teachers. Armed with an arsenal of caramel apples, lollipops and, of course, saltwater taffy, this Pueblo candy company gets a gold star. Call for tours. 114 W. Abriendo Ave., Pueblo; 719-545-0282
11. Telluride Truffle
Owner Patty Denny didn’t need to look far for inspiration. The triangular, mountain-peak-shaped truffles in this Telluride treasure trove are as unique and jaw-dropping as their majestic inspirations. Each treat is named after a high-country experience. The Class 5 is a raspberry flavored homage to whitewater rafting, complete with an obstacle-laden white-chocolate river. And don’t miss the Black Diamond: a tequila-flavored truffle with a touch of dark chocolate, sprinkled with salt. Call for tours. 101 N. Fir St., Telluride; 970-728-9565; telluridetruffle.com
12. Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory
Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory is headquartered in Durango, but boasts 352 stores in 37 states, Canada and the United Arab Emirates. Known for scrumptious boxed chocolates, fudge and truffles, the stores offer a mouthwatering variety of caramel apples (M&M, English toffee and cheesecake, to name a few) made specifically for the Halloween season. The company also just announced it will offer self-serve yogurt in the near future. 561 Main Ave., Durango; 970-259-1408; rmcf.com.
By Dameon Merkl