Over the past 90 years, the "Mile High" city of Denver, Colorado, has seen a number of fine chocolate and candy manufacturers come and go, but one special company is still very much in business.
On his first day of high school, a young man named Carl Hammond returned home and announced that he didn’t need any more education. “Fine,” his mother replied, “but you’re not going to lie around the house. Go get a job.” And that’s just what Carl Hammond did; he got a job…as an apprentice in a candy factory.
In 1920, after several years of learning the candy business, Carl T. Hammond, Sr. founded Hammond’s Candy Company in Denver. He was inspired to become an entrepreneur after creating his first original candy, Honey Ko Kos, chocolates topped with shredded coconut. In his first few years in business, Carl did it all: He developed the recipes, made the candy, sold the candy, and was his own office staff. Eventually, he hired someone to manage the store while traveled the West, selling his candy to other stores.
Business boomed during the “Roaring 20s.” While the Great Depression brought many changes, Hammond’s went right on selling candy, because even in those extremely trying times, people could usually find enough money for the simple and sweet pleasure of candy…but if people were going to buy it, it had to be good. Carl's motto was "Nothing is more important that quality." This focus on quality kept Hammond's modest factory on Platte River Street open, and making a profit, throughout the entire Depression.
In the 1930s, a friend of Carl’s invented a delicious confection: A bite-sized, soft marshmallow surrounded by succulent caramel. Carl loved the product, and purchased the recipe to produce in his factory, naming it the “Mitchell Sweet” after his friend. The Mitchell Sweet became the signature candy in the Hammond’s line, and this remains the case today.
In 1945, Carl’s son, Carl T. (Tom) Hammond, Jr. and his wife June arrived in Denver, after Tom was discharged from the Navy at the end of World War II. Tom went from being Chief Petty Officer to apprentice candy maker. June soon learned the candy business and joined the family business.
In 1948, Hammond's Candy Company moved to a new Denver location, at Bryant Street and West 29th Avenue.
After Carl passed away, Tom took over the helm, and the business continued to flourish under his direction.
In 1967, Tom continued to expand factory operations, purchasing an enrober, a machine used to coat treats in chocolate. Each of Tom’s four sons worked in the business at one time or another, but it was Robin, his only daughter, who chose the candy business as her career.
In 1983, Robin’s husband, Emery Dorsey IV, joined the business and learned the art of candy making from Tom. When Tom passed away, Emery took over the management of the candy factory. With the help of his wife and mother-in-law, he carried on the Hammond’s tradition of candymaking for another 16 years.
In 1995, Hammond’s evolved from a local treasure to a national name, when Williams-Sonoma placed an order for hand-pulled lollipops, chocolate-covered toffee, and pepermint pillows, all of which quickly became best-sellers at the company’s many retail locations around the country.
In 1999, Hammond’s Candy was sold, and with the sale of the company came huge growth. Hammond's grew from a small factory with 10 employees, to a facility twice as large with over 60 employees. At this point, Hammond's also opened the factory to the public, offering free tours and an annual Candy Cane Festival, an event which is still held the first Saturday in December.
In 2004, Hammond’s moved to its current location, a 35,000 square foot facility, just north of downtown Denver on Washington Street and 58th Avenue.
In 2007, a group of candy lovers led by Andrew Schuman, current President and CEO, took a close look at Hammond’s. Schuman, using his specialty retail experience and an entrepreneurial zeal very similar to Carl Hammond himself, saw Hammond’s as a “sweet" company, waiting to be taken to the next level and purchased the company. In just four short years, Hammond’s has doubled in size and continues to thrive under the new ownership. It now utilizes the services of over 120 employees and welcomes over 100,000 visitors a year! As the company has grown, so has its fame: Hammond’s has been featured on CNBC, in the Wall Street Journal, and in other national publications. Its products have been featured in magazines and advertisements, such as Martha Stewart Living and Every Day with Rachel Ray. The factory is frequently featured on television shows such as Food Network’s Kid in a Candy Store. Orders now come in daily from such national companies as Whole Foods, Nordstrom’s, Dean & Deluca, Cracker Barrel and hundreds of local and regional specialty shops across the world. Hammond’s world-famous candy canes can be found in Canada, England, Spain, Italy, Dubai, Kuwait, Japan, Korea, Israel, and other areas around the world.
In 2010, Hammond’s purchased McCraw's Candies, maker of that famous flat taffy you knew as a kid. McCraw’s has been selling its world famous taffy for well over a century. Mccraw's taffy is now manufactured and shipped from Hammond's Denver factory.
In 2011, Hammond's is thrilled to have entered the gourmet food arena with the launch of our succulent dessert dips and snack pretzels. We offer a huge variety for one small company, but (as Carl Hammond taught us) it's much more fun this way!
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