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BYU Bookstore's cinnamon bears: 'Candy's good, but anything in chocolate's better'

SALT LAKE CITY — As Sweet Candy Company vice president of marketing and fourth-generation Sweet employee Rachel Sweet tells it, fans of Brigham Young University Bookstore's chocolate-covered cinnamon bears have a former Sweet's sales person to thank for their favorite confection.

"We started manufacturing (the chocolate-covered cinnamon bears) … in (about) 1994," Sweet said of the Salt Lake City-based company. "We just had a sales person who had a philosophy that (said), 'Candy's good, but anything in chocolate's better.'"

The Sweet Candy Company relocated from Portland, Oregon, to Salt Lake City in approximately 1900, after the store opened in Portland in 1892.
The Sweet Candy Co. relocated from Portland, Oregon, to Salt Lake City in approximately 1900, after the store opened in Portland in 1892. The company has been selling candy to patrons for over 100 years.
Provided by Rachel Sweet

There are plenty of people who would agree with that now-anonymous sales person and today, Sweet Candy Company makes nearly 850,000 pounds of the candy each year, where their factory-made cinnamon bears run through a machine called an enrober, drenching them in chocolate. Back when Sweets Candy first started making their sweet-and-spicy confection, they've found an especially willing audience in Provo.

"We tested it one time and decided to put it out on the marketplace," Sweet said. "One of the biggest buyers of it at that time was the BYU Bookstore."

BYU alumnus and Provo resident Richard Jaussi was a fan of the bookstore's chocolate-covered cinnamon bears when he was a student.

"I have a huge sweet tooth," Jaussi said. "I love treats, I love candy, and I would go occasionally into the bookstore and buy candy in bulk … to fulfill my sweet tooth."

"You know, I got hooked before they had caffeine at the bookstore," he said.

Jaussi originally tried the candy at a bookstore sale and immediately loved the combination of the cinnamon and chocolate.

"For the longest time, I thought you could only get it at the BYU Bookstore," he said, "because I couldn't find it anywhere else."

Sweet Candy Company sells their chocolate-covered cinnamon bears across the country, but they are especially popular in Utah, Idaho, Wyoming and Colorado, where several Wal-Mart, Smith's and Costco locations carry the candy.

Another fan, BYU alumna and Draper resident Shawna Borg, was what she called a "cinnamon bear purist" before trying Sweet Candy Company's concoction.

Sweet Candy Company factory workers in 2015.
Sweet Candy Company factory workers in 2015.

"I (had never tried) them chocolate-coated," she said. "But once I got to BYU, I kind of fell in love with a little bit of chocolate on them too."

Sweet Candy Company has supplied treats to the Beehive State for almost 120 years, when the Portland, Oregon, company — which opened in approximately in 1892 — relocated to Utah in 1900.

"We've been here continuously operating and as a privately held family business since then," Sweet said.

Their chocolate-covered cinnamon bears are just one of the many goodies the company sells and may not be their only well-known treat: There has been a fair amount of speculation on whether the company's sour cherry ball candies are the same sour cherry balls that have a dedicated following at Disneyland. Sweet, however, couldn't confirm if they are sold at the theme park in California.

"If Disneyland is buying through the distributor, and if they are ours, then that's what they are," Sweet said. "But we don't have an invoice or a purchase order or any shipping records that say we sell directly to Disneyland."

Sweet did say that her company is the only sour cherry candy manufacturer in the United States, but noted that there is one in Mexico.

With Valentine's Day around the corner, Sweet Candy Company is posed for a big month. Borg, like a lot of people, said she is trying to cut back on sweets, but plans to cheat a bit on Valentine's Day with her favorite chocolate-covered cinnamon bears. After all, it's not just the sugar she's enjoys — cinnamon candies bring back memories of her grandparents and reminders of her childhood.

"It's a very nostalgic candy for me," she said.