I come from a long line of chocolatiers. My grandfather, Andy Kanelos, was one of America’s original chocolate candy makers, starting Andes Candies® in 1921 with $1800 he received for serving in the U.S. Army during WWI. He made hand-dipped chocolates and confections and eventually opened over 160 Andes Candies® stores in greater Chicago-land. He met my grandmother at Andes as well.
As one of the ‘store girls’ who helped customers select from the array of chocolates behind Andes’ pristine glass display cases, young Esther never helped herself to a chocolate. Andy teased her. “Don’t you like my chocolates, Esther?” he’d ask. Flustered, she’d tell him how much she loved them, but she couldn’t afford to buy very many on her store girl salary. They solved that problem when Andy and Esther were married in 1926.
Trips to the Andes® ‘Kitchen’ as the family called it, were regular events through two generations. Sometime in the 1940s, my aunt, age 8, fell headfirst into a marshmallow vat attempting to sneak a finger full before it found its home in the Andes chocolate marshmallow eggs.
I grew up with plenty of chocolates in the house and my own memories of wonderful trips to the Kitchen on Saturday mornings. Every visit overflowed with the smell of warm chocolate. In the 1970s, my dad focused the company on one product line, the Andes mint, eventually taking it to chocolate lovers around the world.
My first experience with cacao liquor, also known as chocolate mass, was during my college years. My dad wanted to make his own chocolate for the Andes Mints and I joined him on a visit to one of Nestle’s chocolate factories to watch the process. It was a large facility and noisy, but the process was fascinating. As we watched the roasted beans being ground into paste, I was certain I heard the Nestle Manager explain that the final product was called the Chocolate Mess. Of course, I’d heard wrong, but it gave me great pleasure to insist that it was the Chocolate Mess for the next 20 years… (because that is pretty much what it looked like to me).
The chocolate love continues to run in my veins. Throughout the years, the chocolatey treat closest to my heart has always been hot fudge sauce. But I could never find the exact taste I wanted. I even tried giving up on eating fudge sauce. Of course, that didn’t work. Finally, I just couldn’t stand not to have the hot fudge sauce I dreamed of. So, after more than a year of cooking up fudge recipes, I arrived at five flavors I absolutely love. I’m certain you’ll love them as well. And I’m honored to keep the chocolate story alive in my family.
Our mission is simple: Spread the taste of happiness. Happiness can be pretty complex, but it can also be a simple thing. We focus on spreading happiness by making our yummy fudge sauces for the whole wide world. Put a spoonful of fudge sauce in your mouth. See… it’s sort of instant happiness.
The more complex side of happiness is about doing what’s right. Do Good. I learned that in college. So Snow Owl Confectioners also spreads happiness by ensuring that we buy cacao from co-ops of small, land-hold growers. And we don’t buy from producers that engage in child labor in the cacao groves. Helping small growers keep their groves and keeping kids out of the labor pool. These are some of the other ways we spread happiness.
Q. Why did you name it Snow Owl?
A. Snowy Owls are pure and natural and, when we’re lucky enough to see them, part of the Colorado landscape. Plus, they remind me of sumptuous chocolatey hot fudge sauce drizzled over ice cream.
Q. Why four flavors?
A. And I say, “So far there are four.” Who knows what I might come up with next?
Q. I love your blue-eyed Snowy Owl, tell me about him.
A. He’s name is Ulysses and he’s on a mission to find hot fudge lovers around the world. I’m grateful to wonderful nature photographer Judy Bingman for the amazing photo, and yes, he is the only Snowy Owl with blue eyes in history.
Q. How do you make it taste so amazing?
A. That’s what we do. So, try our five amazing hot fudge sauces and get a special jolt of happiness in every bite. Come on, I know you’re smiling