Making the bittersweet move from New York to California a couple of years back, a hopeful thought struck me as I wiped away my goodbye tears: at least I'd have easier access to some of my favorite West Coast treats—fish tacos, In-N-Out, and See's Lollypops. And last week, I had my own personal Golden Ticket moment when I got to tour the See's factory in Los Angeles.
When it opened for business in 1921, the first See's Candies shop was a small storefront at 135 North Western Avenue, in the heart of what is now Los Angeles' Koreatown. The founder, Charles See, set up a candy kitchen in the back of the shop, where he turned out his mother Mary's recipes for dipped bon bons, maple walnut creams, and toffee.
Today See's Candies sells some 31 million pounds of candy a year, and acts as a kind of ambassador of the West, with 205 shops around the region, many in airports where hurried travelers pick up a few boxes of peanut brittle or those specialty creamy pops to bring home. The lollies themselves are churned out at a dedicated facility in the San Francisco Bay Area, which also boasts a second See's factory focused on the company's soft center treats, like creams and truffles. The L.A. outpost that I visited specializes in peanut brittle, handmade bon bons, and various nuts and chews.
The factories are usually closed to the public, but in honor of National Lollypop Day, See's is hosting a giveaway good for a round-trip ticket to San Francisco, four nights in an SF hotel, and an exclusive tour of their Lollypop Factory and Candy Kitchen. For everyone else, the stores will be giving away free suckers at its stores on Lollypop Day (July 20) and you can catch a glimpse of the L.A. factory in the slideshow.