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December 31, 2008 > History: Holiday Sweet Tooth

History: Holiday Sweet Tooth

By Diane Curry, Curator

One of the best things about this time of year is all the old classic movies shown on television. One of my favorites is Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. No matter how many times I've seen it; I stop and watch it again. The movie represents every little kids fantasy - all the candy you could possibly eat. Apparently I'm in touch with my inner child because I still think it would be awesome to have your own chocolate river. Because of this movie, I've always thought making and selling candy for a living would be a fun job; which sent me on a quest to discover the candy history of Hayward.

The first reference I find to a confectionery or candy shop in town is 1867 with a city directory reference to a J. Speck "fruit and confectionery." I would guess that the owner not only sold the fruit and candy as separate items but also offered special treats of a fruit based confection. In a 1890s directory, an advertisement appears for Templeton's, an ice cream parlor and candy factory on B Street. While I could not locate specific names of a candy store or candy factory between these two eras, there is a candy factory indicated on maps in the middle of B Street next to the I.O.O.F. building. In 1905 there appears the Elite Candy Store at 928 B Street, first operated by G.H. Stulz and later by Mr. and Mrs. J. F. Kelly. This might be the unidentified "candy factory" on the map. This store was still going strong in 1925 when a newspaper references Kelly's Candy Store being "as popular as ever." By the mid-1930s the store appears to have been bought by Phillip Mayhew and the name changed to Our Place Sweet Shop. In 1934 Mayhew advertised boxed Christmas candy for sale as well as "Christmas Liquor- wines, the choicest Champagne, liquors, and cordials at lowest prices." Sounds like Mr. Mayhew was trying to fill everyone's definition of a sweet indulgence!

In 1908, an immigrant from Europe, M.D. Milton, came to Hayward. He began making candy and opened a store on Castro Street, now Mission Boulevard. His brother, O.D., joined him in 1919 and they moved Milton's Candy Store to a new location next to the Hayward Theater on Castro in 1926 (now the parking lot for the Lucky's Store on Mission Boulevard). For many years the store sold candy and ice cream and it was the place to get candy before seeing a movie next door. A 1934 Christmas advertisement in the Hayward Journal newspaper for Milton's gives us a nice glimpse of the business:

"Made in our own spotless shop, of the purest ingredients. And today's prices are very moderate. Let us show you our fine assortment of fruit or nut hand-dipped chocolates. Lunch Room - breakfast, lunch dinner, special holiday dinners; Cedar Chests-packed with a delicious assortment of chocolates $2.00. Homemade-broken or plain mix candy at the low price of 15 cents a pound; Christmas Boxes of candy beautifully packed."

Eventually, the brother's changed the name to Milton's Restaurant and, while they continued to make and sell candy, they also expanded the menu to serve meals all day. They were one of the first businesses in town, according to several newspaper reports, to install a plate glass window in their store front to show off their wares to passersby. For 38 years the Milton brothers ran their candy shop and restaurant filling the sweet cravings of Hayward's residents.

Other candy makers and candy stores came and went over the years. The Chocolate Shop was located on B and Main Streets in the 1920s. Margaret Burnham's Cottage Candies was another one on the corner of B and Mission Boulevard in the 1940s. See's Candies moved to town in the mid-1950s, opening a store on "The Strip," the shopping district on Foothill Boulevard. In 1960, MacFarlane's Candies opened a hip, modern drive-in candy and ice cream store on Foothill between B and C Street. All of these candy stores exist only in memory now.

The largest candy factory still active in Hayward is the Annabelle Candy Company, makers of the Rocky Road, U-No, Look, Abba Zaba, and Big Hunk candy bars. Sam Altshuler, an immigrant from Russia, came to the U.S. in the early 20th century and eventually made his way to San Francisco. He began making a confection he called "rocky road" and selling it from a cart on Market Street in San Francisco.
Mr. Altshuler's candy bar was a hit and he soon began manufacturing the candy on a large scale, opening a factory in San Francisco in 1950. He named the company after his daughter, Annabelle. In 1965, Mr. Altshuler relocated the factory to a much larger facility in Hayward. Upon his death in 1971, his daughter Annabelle took over the company which is now run by her daughter. The Annabelle Candy Company is a Hayward institution, manufacturing some of the most popular candy on the West Coast.

These are just some of the candy makers and sellers I was able to track down. No doubt there are many more favorite candy stores, and candy stories, out there. If you have a favorite memory to share about a candy place in town, the Historical Society would love to hear about it. Please drop us a line at: Hayward Area Historical Society, 22701 Main Street, Hayward, CA 94541.

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