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Chocolate masterpiece

Snook’s Candies a popular spot for Easter supplies
By: Bridget Jones, Special to the Telegraph
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Just call him Folsom’s Michelangelo, but instead of marble, he works with chocolate. Snook’s Chocolate Factory on Sutter Street, which was founded in 1963, is offering a wide variety of Easter treats including various chocolate bunnies. The store’s classic surprise bunny has a chocolate coin and a coupon for a chocolate-dipped waffle cone sealed inside its hollow body. Jim Snook, the second-generation owner of the store, said this bunny came about through a very special story. “We had a guy come to us at Easter and he said, ‘I want to put this engagement ring inside a bunny … can you do it?’” Snook said. Since then Snook’s has been making half-pound and one-pound chocolate surprise bunnies for its customers at Easter, and sells about 300 of them each year, Snook said. Snook said Easter is definitely one of the biggest holidays for the store every year. “Christmas is our number one holiday … and then Easter is the second biggest, followed by Valentine’s (Day), but they’re all pretty close,” he said. Snook said the store will also sell about 600 of its Bunny Pops as well as 600 of its solid chocolate bunnies, which come in various sizes. For Snook, making candy is a passion. “I have been involved in candy making for 33 years, doing it since I was 18,” he said. “When I started college, I was working another job early mornings that I couldn’t do anymore. So my dad asked if I wasn’t to learn to make candy … and I got the bug. It’s very creative work.” The store continues to be a family affair. “My parents, the founders, are still here two to three days a week,” he said. “Jeannine, my mom, is 77 years old and she still deals with the customers. My dad, John, is 76. He is here stamping chocolate coins for the tourism bureau and we just did some for the Folsom History Museum.” His son has also caught the candy-making bug. “My son, Eric, is here. He’s 23 and third-generation. He makes all the candies. He started when he was 15. Now, he can make anything. He’s got the art now,” he said. “Making the brittles, like peanut brittle, is hard, especially the way we do it.” The chocolate bunnies are made using a high-quality mold. “Some of these bunny molds come from Europe and they are really expensive, up to $150 each,” he said. “They are a polycarbonate, so you can see through them. When they’re done, we brush them with a camelhair brush.” Another customer favorite are the small and large chocolate eggs that come in several varieties including fudge with and without nuts, peanut butter fudge, rocky road and butter cream. The store sells about 1,000 of these each year, Snook said. A new addition to this year’s product line-up is the three-dimensional chocolate rose that sits on top of a pencil. Although this product is being introduced around Easter, these pencils will be available all year long and come in a variety of styles to celebrate every occasion including graduations, births, holidays and more. His wife, Renee, handles more of the business end. “Renee is the merchandiser,” he said. “She does all the creative merchandising, like with these three-dimensional roses.” The store has a variety of other Easter treats on sale such as specially-made Jelly Belly carrots, chocolate crosses and caramel corn bunnies for those who can’t have or don’t eat chocolate. Those interested can view and order many of Snook’s products on its Web site, www.snookscandies.com. This year Snook’s will once again be raffling off a three-foot tall, 14-pound chocolate bunny to benefit the Folsom History Museum’s pioneer village. “They’re really low on funding, so we thought, ‘Let’s make this bunny that’s 14 pounds of chocolate, and raffle it off,’” Snook said. Karen Mehring, director of the museum, said she greatly appreciates the donation. “I think it shows a wonderful partnership between two organizations,” Mehring said. “Basically the simple fact that (Snook is) a Sutter Street merchant and that he’s finding a way to give back, and especially to us, is great. Chocolate is always a good thing!” The bunny would normally sell for $279 and Snook is hoping to raise around the $565 that was raised through last year’s raffle. Although the bunny is 14 pounds and three feet tall, it isn’t hard to eat because it’s hollow, Snook said. Raffle tickets are $2 for one or $5 for three tickets. The drawing will take place at 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 11. Snook said it’s the hard work that goes into making quality candy and the relationships developed with customers that keep people coming back to Snook’s. “We really put a huge focus on customer service, and I have an excellent staff,” he said. “And we love Folsom. We have great regular customers that come in all the time. It’s the (positive) customer comments – that really keeps us going.” Bridget Jones can be reached at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com.