Historic Folsom was buzzing with celebration from sunset into the late evening Friday night as the community responded in large to pay homage to Folsom’s first family of sweets as the much anticipated 60th anniversary celebration of Snooks Candies and Chocolate Factory came to life in larger fashion than they ever expected.
“This is amazing seeing all of you here tonight,” said Jim Snook as he spoke at the Historic Folsom Amphitheater that was completely filled with attendees for the evening’s benefit concert put on by the family as their way to give back to the community that has supported them through the decades. “Putting on something like this is not something we really ever do so we were a bit a nervous doing it and here we are tonight about to start a completely sold-out concert.”
When it comes to ribbon cuttings, Choose Folsom has done a countless number of them. Stats and headcounts aren’t something that has been officially recorded during them through the years, but Fridays certainly was one for the ages and undoubtedly one of the largest in recent history.
Between the large amount of Snook family members and members of the community, the crowd overloaded far beyond the steps of the store and into Wool Street, tasking Choose Folsom’s Vice President of Strategic Partnerships Shannon Robb-Bundalian and Ribbon Cutting Chairperson Sean Smith of impromptu crowd control as they worked to keep everyone back out of the roadway and attempted to squeeze as many as possible into the space behind the ribbon to partake in the official cutting.
Numerous city leaders and dignitaries were in attendance of the event. Among them was Folsom resident and California Assemblyman Josh Hoover. As he addressed the Snook family in what appeared as a routine presentation, Hoover nearly brought the couple to tear as he announced that he had named them the 2023 Small Business of the Year for California’s 7th Assembly District.
In addition to Hoover, the family was honored by Folsom Mayor Rosario Rodriguez and City Manager Elaine Anderson who were joined by all the members of Folsom City County Friday. Recognitions were also made by the offices of Congressman Kevin Kiley, Sacramento County Supervisor Sue Frost and State Senator Roger Niello on the steps of the business. Friday’s presentations followed a Resolution of Commendation that was issued earlier in the week by Folsom City Council, as previously reported in a Folsom Times article Wednesday.
The crowd mingled and enjoyed small plates at the business while local musician Aaron Gayden provided music with his skilled vocals and keyboard talents. It was hard to believe, but all of this was just the prelude for the bigger party that went well beyond dark at the amphitheater as the well-known regional CC Seger Band took to the stage for the benefit concert portion of the evening.
The concert was put together by the Snook family in conjunction with the Folsom Historic District. It was the Snook family’s way of giving back to the district and the city that has supported their generational family business through the decades, patronizing them for sweety tasty gifts for many of their own milestones, family holidays and more.
The Snooks Candies and Chocolate Factory retrospect
Snooks Candies and Chocolate Factory was originally established in 1963 as Country Candies by the late John and Jeannine Snook. The candy shop was located at the Arden Fair Food Circus in the heart of the city’s Arden area. Through the years, their children began becoming a part of the candy making business.
In 1975 Jim started to learn the Confectionery Craft and later his older brother Jeff joined the company. John sold real estate for a few years until the market downturn. In 1980 they changed the name to Snook’s Candies. John and Jeannine with the help of daughter Julie opened a store in Tahoe City in 1981 and eventually sold it 18 years later in 1999.
It was the Arden store that brought Jim and Renee, Folsom’s true “candy couple” together. The couple loves to tell the story of how they met and fell in love and how chocolate was a big part of it.
It all happened back in 1982, Renee had to visit a local department store to make an exchange. At the same time, Jim Snook was working at his parents’ candy store, stretching out the peanut brittle just inside the front window like he did on a regular basis.
“He had his name tag on his shirt, so I said, ‘Hi Jim, it looks hot back there.’ I didn’t even know what I was doing but my feet weren’t moving!” is how Renee describes their meeting time and time again. “He asked what my name was, so I told him. Then I got my bread and left.”
Every Saturday after that, Renee would see Jim working at the candy store when she was shopping. One time, he decided to get her number. “He yelled my name and came running after me,” she said. “I said, ‘Yes, Jim, what can I do for you?’ That’s how it all began.”
With the lease at Food Circus nearing its end and the new landowners planning to demolish and rebuild the site, the family opened a new business in Historic Folsom below what was then the Hacienda Restaurant March in 1985. John knew the owners of the Hacienda Restaurant who lived in Tahoe City and they had recently purchased the building in Historic Folsom and were seeking tenants. It was then that the Snook’s name officially became a part of the Folsom community.
In 1999 after John and Jeannine sold the Tahoe City location and looked forward to retirement. Jim and Renee Snook purchased their shares of the company and in 2002 moved the business to its current home on Sutter Street. The move is something that took the business to the next level. Not only was it located on a premier corner of the Sutter Street, it also made it possible for visitors to actually watch all those chocolaty goodies being made.
The Snook family legacy began in 1963 when John and Jeanine Snook opened Country Candies in the Arden Food Circus.
“Producing our product on view to the public is in our business model to provide an experience. You don’t need to buy anything to walk away with the feeling that this was a unique place,” Jim explained. “That does bring its challenges, manufacturing in a prime retail location. We have much of the space dedicated to production which normally would be done in a more industrial location.”
Since the move, the Snooks have been very involved in Historic District, participating in countless community events year after year. Additionally, Jim has served on the board of the Folsom Historic District Association and is the current board president. It’s just one example of how he follows the family motto of working hard and being open for their community.
“Renee and I have always tried to bring vibrancy to the district. We always committed to regular hours 7 days a week. But our move to the current location in 2002 seemed to have spurred some much-needed attention to the Historic District. We can’t imagine a better place to be than where we are right now.”
Back in June of this year, the original “Candy Man” John Snook passed away at the age of 91. Up until is passing, John still visited the store almost daily, running errands or making a delivery. Sometimes he just enjoyed sitting on a bench or at a table and talking to folks, sharing stories and chatting.
Today, the business carries on with 3rd and fourth generations making confections on a daily basis using the lessons originally taught by John Snook and combining those early day techniques with innovation to be a continued success. The business is one of Folsom’s true gems, being it’s turning 60 next month it is undoubtedly a diamond that continues to shine in the community.