Saturday’s Historic Folsom Hometown Parade drew the largest crowd in its 5-year-history but one face familiar to the community was missing. Known as the “Candyman” of Folsom, John Snook passed away last Wednesday, June 21, at the age of 90.

“The passing of John Snook hits our community with great sadness,” said Folsom Mayor Rosario Rodriguez when she learned the patriarch of the family owned and operated Snook’s Chocolate Factory had passed away.  


“I will miss seeing him sitting on the bench in front of Snooks where we had many conversations about the rewards and complexities of running a business,” said Rodriguez, who owns the Sutter Street Taqueria just three doors down from Snook’s “He was a wise man with a wealth of good advice at a time when I was a new entrepreneur.”

If you’ve been a resident of Folsom for any amount of time, or even just a visitor, chances are you experienced the same familiar scene and engagement as Rodriguez. Right up until his final days, Snook was known for frequenting the family business that is operated today by his son Jim and members of the family.  It didn’t matter if you knew him well, or you had just met him, he loved making people smile, not only with sugary treats, but in good old fashioned conversation. 


Snook was born in Three Rivers Michigan and later became what is described by his family as the devoted husband to Jeannine Mae. Jeannine preceded him in passing in December of 2016 after a 63-year marriage that was viewed by others as a true love story that spanned the decades.

“My fondest memory of John Snook is the love he had for his late wife, Jeannie. They built an incredible life together and he spoke so kindly of her, “said Rodriguez. “There is no doubt that John and Jeannie are dancing together again in heaven….and that warms my heart for a love story of all time.”


After graduating high school, Snook served in the United States Air Force from 1950 to 1954. He was deployed to South Korea during the Korean war and later stationed at nearby Mather Air Force Base which was when he met Jeannine, who lived in Sacramento’s Land Park area at the time.


The two fell in love and married in 1954 and remained in California thereafter. They had six children, Jeff, Jim, Julie, Jon, Jerald and Joe. Later in life they enjoyed the arrival of 11 Grandchildren and 13 Great Grandchildren. 

Snook got his start in the candy business in 1963 when he and Jeannine decided to open Country Candies. 


The homemade candy shop was located at what was known as the Arden Fair Food Circus in Sacramento. The business was a hit and soon became the way of life for every member of the family who worked in it at some time. 

In 1975 his son Jim began to learn the confectionary craft and later, his older brother Jeff joined the company. In 1980 they changed the name to Snooks Candies.  John and Jeannine with the help of daughter Julie opened a second store in Tahoe City in 1981.

With the lease at Food Circus nearing it’s end and the new landowners planning to demolish and rebuild the site, the family made the decision to open a new business in  Historic Folsom below the Hacienda Restaurant in March of 1985. While today, the move to Folsom is looked back upon as a very wise decision, it wasn’t always that way, in the beginning John wasn’t so sold on the idea as Folsom wasn’t the destination it is today. 

“The owner of the Hacienda Restaurant in Tahoe City came in to his store and told my dad he just bought a building in Folsom and wanted us to open a store there. My dads response was …why would I want to open a store in that dinky little town of Folsom,” Jim Snook recalled. “We were needing to find a location because our store lease was ending. My brother was also involved back then and we all made the commitment to open in Folsom. 

Jim recalled the family’s early beginnings in Folsom got off to a slow start. Despite the hurdles they faced, his father and the family  eventually turned it into a regional destination for homemade treats, a decision he is grateful for today. 

“We struggled, my brother moved on as he could not support his family of 5, Jim said. “He became a contractor more than 30 years ago.”

As Folsom began to turn around and the Snook’s had a successful 18-year-run in Tahoe City, they sold the mountain location. Jim and his wife Renee then purchased John and Jeannine’s shares of the company in 1999 and in 2002 moved the business to its current home in the heart of Historic Folsom where it continues to thrive today, operating under a business model that can best be described as a family legacy that John set the the stage for from the first box of chocolates he packed in 1961.

Although he was technically retired, John continued to stay involved in the family business through the years. According to Jim, his father loved to visit with the customers and the staff regularly, running errands or making a delivery. 

It wasn’t uncommon to see John sitting on a bench just outside the front door of the shop or at a table inside the sweet shop talking to folks, sharing stories and chatting. He was also a regular at the Historic Folsom Summer Twilight Concert series, often being the first one to get up and dance, only to have the other attendees follow suit.  No matter where they met him, many enjoyed talking to the original “Candy Man” himself through the years. 

Jim Metzker is the co-owner of Dorothea’s Shoppe, which is next to Snook’s on Sutter Street.  Like many, Metzker has found memories of Snook. 

“What I remember most about John Snook is that he always had a smile on his face. If John was sitting in front of Snooks or dancing the night away at the Thursday night concerts he was always smiling,” said Metzker. “Whenever anyone walked by him at Snooks he always had a friendly word and smile. John will be missed but has created an amazing legacy.”

Cynthia Renee has performed several times at the Historic Folsom Amphitheater. She recalls the first time she performed at the venue and saw Snook light up the dance floor with his contagious smile. 

“It was a pretty warm evening and nobody was dancing yet, John changed that very quickly,” said Renee. “He got out there with a lady friend and it wasn’t long until many more joined him. It was always heartwarming to see him enjoying life to the fullest and inspiring others.”

Aside from close family, friends and members of the local media, many were unaware of Snook’s passing prior to Saturday’s parade. Midway through it, the community knew the beloved Candyman had passed and there was hardly a dry eye on Sutter Street.

Carrying his fathers familiar walking cane, Jim was joined by Renee as they carried a large photo of the family patriarch that was taken of him wearing a sash with the words “Mayor of Sutter Street” across it. The sash was given to Snook during his reign as the very first grand marshal of the Hometown Parade five years ago, an event he enjoyed each year thereafter.

As the family made several stop along the route, they were greeted  by spectators who stood up and applauded them in their time of loss. Many wiping a tear from their eye, it was apparent that John Snook was known to most in the community of Folsom, regardless if they ever had the pleasure of meeting him or not. 

Today, the legacy that Snook built carries on in the form of four generations making confections on a daily basis.  

“Dad would stop in almost daily once they moved back from Tahoe in 2005,” Jim said.   “He made it known he was proud of how the company has progressed and persevered through some very tough times, becoming somewhat of a landmark in the Historic District of Folsom,” stated Jim after his father’s passing. 

According to the family, a celebration of life is scheduled to take place Thursday, July 13 at 10:30 am at St. Joseph Morello Church in Granite Bay. 

Bill Sullivan
Author: Bill Sullivan

Bill Sullivan has over 25 years of professional journalism and content creation experience in which he has earned 37 professional awards. He is the co-founder/publisher of Folsom Times an All Town Media LLC product.