The Land of Milk and Honey

Gracious words are a honeycomb. Sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. Proverbs 16:24


We will need to pray for national civility, reconciliation and particularly gracious words in the coming weeks as the results of Tuesday’s elections are released. We were reminded of literal sweetness this past Monday as trick-or-treaters collected their bounty and did you know that there is a very rich confectionary heritage here in the East Bay?


Just down Industrial Blvd. from UCH, tucked between nondescript commercial buildings stands an unexpected sweet surprise. The home of the classic Rocky Road candy bar, Annabelle Candy Company has been producing tempting confections at its Hayward headquarters since 1965. Annabelle’s was founded in San Francisco by Russian Immigrant Sam Altshuler in1950 who thoughtfully named his chocolate company after his daughter. In 1972 Altshuler purchased Golden Nugget Company and in1978 the Cardinet Candy Company expanding Annabelle’s line of sweet products to include Big Hunk, Look, U-No and Abba Zabba candy bars.


Located in nearby Union City on Whipple Road is the American Licorice Company, West Coast home of iconic Red Vines. Begun in Chicago in 1914, the venerable company’s initial product was black licorice but soon increased its product line and manufacturing locations. An interesting local side story is that Charlie Chaplin asked the company to create a licorice shoe to be used as a prop for his classic film The Gold Rush in which his “tramp” character (developed in Niles) eats his “shoe leather” to avoid starvation.


San Leandro is the home of the grand-daddy of them all, Ghirardelli Chocolate Company. Incorporated in 1852, Ghirardelli is the third oldest chocolate company in the entire U.S. After making a try at gold prospecting Domenico Ghirardelli opened a general store in Stockton offering supplies and confections to fellow miners and with initial success soon opened a second store in San Francisco. Following decades of growth and ownership changes Ghirardelli moved its manufacturing operations to its present East Bay location in 1967.


Do you remember visiting the Hershey plant in Oakdale and getting that first whiff of chocolate entering town and then receiving a free Hersey bar for completing the plant tour? Or being in awe of the endless flavor combinations of Fairfield’s Jelly Bellys?  Ghirardelli’s chocolate squares are good but a Hayward’s own Annabelle’s U-No bar is pure heaven. Mmmmmm. (what election?)  -Bill, with apologies to those with chocolate and sugar allergies and diet restrictions.