Almost 60 years on, we’re still sweet on Grand Junction’s Enstrom Candies
It was the late 1950s, and Chet Enstrom decided to start making holiday mail-order toffee so he and his wife, Vernie, could quietly retire. Little did he know that the toffee would be such a hit that more than 57 years and several generations later, Enstrom Candies would be an international business selling more than 1 million pounds of toffee this year, along with toffee popcorn, pralines, truffles and more.
“We hear about secretaries who get in trouble because they ate the boss’s candy or who call to get a replacement in the mail quick before their boss finds out, nurses locking it in the lock box, banks hiding candy in their vaults, husbands and wives hiding toffee behind the vegetables in the freezer,” says Jamee Enstrom Simons, Chet’s granddaughter and co-owner of the Grand Junction candy titan.
The secret to their success? Sticking to Granddad’s original vision. “He always said you should use the finest ingredients, so that’s what we do,” Simons says. “We use pure sweet creamery butter, almonds from California and cane sugar, and we follow my grandfather’s recipe exactly.”
The buttery almond treat is also topped with a special “Enstrom blend” of chocolate, made exclusively for the company by the Guittard family in Northern California and introduced by Simons’s parents, who joined the business in 1965 and bought it in the 1970s.
But Chet’s natural affinity for candy has always guided the business. “When he was 17, my grandfather went to work in Colorado Springs for Barthel’s Confectionary, an old-fashioned ice cream and candy shop,” Simons says. “He would work his shifts on the ice cream side, then go over to the candy-making side because he was fascinated with it. Granddad would watch what the candy maker used, then go home and write down the recipe.
“In a lot of family businesses, the kids don’t continue, but here we’re at the fourth generation. Both of our sons, Doug Jr. and Jim, are passionate about it. We make people happy, and what better business could you be in than to make people happy?”
The business: Hand-crafted, small-batch candy and sweets including toffee, chocolates, toffee popcorn, nut clusters and more.
Year founded: 1960
Employees: 80-200 (seasonal)