I’ve been looking into all the things worth checking out locally in the Valley of the Sun. After spending some time on google and Pinterest, I have a nice long list … first stop: The Cerreta Candy Co.
Finding a local candy company is always a fun surprise. I grabbed a friend and we headed to Glendale for the factory tour.
The Cerreta Candy Co is a family owned business that’s been up and running for almost 60 years. Mr. and Mrs. C, the owners, came out to Arizona with their eight children, found a location, built the factory and they’ve been sweetening people’s lives ever since. One of the sons … and his son … are in the factory almost daily according to our guide.
The factory is also the Cerreta Candy store. We made our way to the register to sign up for the tour, passing dozens of confectionary temptations. I confess, I can be a little picky about my candy choices, so I was a little worried I’d walk out with a couple of pieces of plain chocolate … but there were plenty of options for every palate. Cerreta makes flavored caramels, taffy, chocolate, chocolate creams and more.
The tour costs a mere $5, but you can upgrade with a number of “DIY” options that allow you to linger afterward and decorate your own take-home treat. We decided, since it’s so close to Valentine’s Day, to test our artistic skills on a chocolate heart.
On this particular day, the factory was mostly quiet. Our tour included my friend and me and just two other people. We met Desiree near the back of the factory and she shared the Cerreta story as she handed us a few free samples.
The candy is still made mostly by hand. Caramels start in huge copper vats using locally sourced ingredients. Once the cooking is complete, the copper is spread on cooling tables to chill for 24 hours before it’s packaged for distribution.
It was fun to learn that much of the equipment on the floor is used for packaging and processing only. The machines have been around almost as long as the candy company. Desiree explained many of the pieces came from Europe in the 1950s and 60s.
The wrapping machine that was humming along as it swaddled the chocolate raspberry bites in cellophane was clear evidence that these old machines are still doing their job long after their original owners retired.
As we marveled at the command center where chocolate candies are molded, the smell of popcorn filled the air. The chocolates made earlier were now being wrapped and the candy workers had switched their focus to creating flavored popcorn treats. Step one … make HUGE bags of perfectly popped corn.
Desiree smiled behind her mask and tantalized us with the explanation that on days when the Cerreta signature French mint truffles are being made, the entire building smells of spearmint and chocolate.
The tour concluded with another sample … the raspberry chocolates fresh from the wrapping machine. Desiree showed us to our DIY station and we got to work creating our candy “art.”
As we put our treats in the car and headed home, we agreed this family-run business was a fun way to spend a cloudy afternoon. After all, there’s a whole world out there waiting to be explored. Fortify yourself with sweets while you’re exploring.
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