The History of See's Candies

The See’s story begins with the iconic face on our boxes.

Over 100 Years in the Making
See’s Candies introduced our iconic, American-made candy to California in 1921, and it was a hit from day one. Over the years, we’ve won the hearts and stomachs of generation after generation.

Our history makes us stand out from the crowd. We still use many of Mary See’s homemade recipes — the very same ones that delighted customers over 100 years ago. At See’s Candies, our heritage lies at the heart of everything we do today.

Step Into Mary’s Checkerboard Kitchen
Mary See created many of our most popular recipes, so it’s only fitting that our story starts with her.

In 1854 Mary Wisemen was born in Ontario, Canada. At age 20 she married Alexander See and helped her husband run a hotel on Tremont Park Island while raising three children. Though she kept busy, Mary she still found the time to create her delicious homemade candy recipes.

In 1919, following the death of his father, Mary’s son Charles decided to leave Canada for sunny California and asked his mother to join him. Like many others headed to the Golden State, Charles was following a dream. He would launch a candy company of his own using his mother’s homemade recipes to delight customers. It was the start of something delicious.

Charles Lives His Dream
Mary’s move to California didn’t dampen her enthusiasm for candy making. The kitchen of her Pasadena post-Victorian bungalow saw her whipping up timeless treats. In fact, the black-and-white checkerboard kitchen floor inspired Charles so much that he recreated it in his first Los Angeles candy shop. What he didn’t know was the iconic look would become synonymous with his family name.

From the very start, Charles was determined to embody his mother’s values of using the freshest, finest ingredients — only the best would do for her homemade candy. He stuck to those principles, and we still follow them today, just like Mary’s original recipes for Victoria Toffee, Chocolate Walnut Fudge, and Peanut Brittle.

See’s has always been about family, and that approach extends to employees and customers alike. Our employees are treated as loved ones, and customers receive warm greetings and free samples as if they were old friends. Charles laid the foundation of the brand we love today; instilling values that have lasted a century.

L.A. Goes Candy Crazy!
By 1925, Charles’ dream had exceeded even his expectations. Los Angeles had no less than a dozen See’s shops, including one at Grauman’s famous Chinese Theater. In 1928, See’s even began offering a motorcycle delivery service. Movie stars and celebrities rushed to experience Door Dash — 1920s style!

Depression, Difficulties and Delicious Delicacies
Like other industries, the Great Depression brought hardships to America’s candy-makers. High unemployment meant little money was left at the week’s end for treats. But where other brands saw obstacles, Charles saw opportunities and introduced an innovative new idea — volume savings pricing (a feature we still offer today).

Charles didn’t stop there. In 1931, Los Angeles was introduced to Mary See’s Sunlit Candy Studio — a beautiful chocolate shop and kitchen with plate-glass windows where customers watched confections being hand made. And by 1939, 18 shops had opened in the San Francisco Bay Area.

But it wasn’t just Californians who got their first taste of our American-made goodness. Visitors stood in line at the 1939 World's Fair to witness See's Candies’ exhibit — a miniature working candy kitchen. Chocolate-lovers nationwide were introduced to See’s for the first time, and they couldn’t get enough.

Even the Second World War didn’t shake See’s newfound reputation as a household name. While rationing made finding ingredients difficult, we remained committed to Quality Without Compromise. Never a company to lower our standards, we turned to making smaller amounts of candy daily, using the same fresh ingredients.

Mouth-Watering Mail, Transpacific Treats and Online Ordering
As the years raced by, See’s Candies continued to grow and thrive. By the late 1950s, there were more than 124 shops across California, and mail order arrived in the 1960s allowing customers to have the joy of See’s shipped directly to their doors.

Candy connoisseurs in Phoenix welcomed a See’s shop in 1961. But nationwide expansion was just the tip of a chocolate iceberg. In 1976, global chocolate fans celebrated the opening of See’s first international shop in Kowloon, Hong Kong.

The same forward thinking that inspired so many See’s innovations led to launching a website and online store. As a result, customers worldwide could now sample the delights of See’s Candies for themselves. And now — thanks to the power of online ordering — See’s fans can have all their tasty favorites shipped nationwide.

Quality Never Goes Out of Style
Our commitment to tradition, taste and service has not changed since day one. We strive daily to make Mary proud and our dedication to using only the highest quality ingredients still holds. Trends may change and See’s Candies may grow, but our motto, Quality Without Compromise, rings as true today as it did in 1921.

Shop our American-made goodness.