See's Candies

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See's Candies
Industry Retail and candy
Founded 1921; 96 years ago (1921)
Founder Charles See
Headquarters El Camino Real,
South San Francisco, California
, United States
Key people
Brad Kinstler (CEO)
Products Chocolate, candy, brittle
Revenue US$383 million (2007)[1]
Number of employees
Parent Berkshire Hathaway

See's Candies is an American manufacturer and distributor of candy, particularly chocolates. It was founded by Charles See, his wife Florence, and his mother Mary in Los Angeles, California, in 1921. The company is now headquartered in South San Francisco, California.[2] See's kitchens are at its headquarters and at a second location in Los Angeles,[3] where there are also retail shops. It also has an office in Carson, California.[4]

The company largely markets its products in its own stores, those of fellow Berkshire Hathaway subsidiary Nebraska Furniture Mart, and via mail order catalog. See's candies are also available in some airports in the United States. See's Candies operates over 200 stores in the following U.S. states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin.[5] There are also stores outside the U.S. in Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, and Macau.[6] Seasonally — primarily during the year-end holiday shopping season — See's also offers its product in select markets in kiosks at malls and other shopping centers. See's also has an online store.[7]

The company was purchased by Warren Buffett (via Blue Chip Stamps) for his Berkshire Hathaway Corporation in 1972. At a 1996 luncheon in San Francisco, Charlie Munger revealed that See's was the first high quality business that Berkshire ever bought. Previous to that point, Berkshire had focused on undervalued assets that could be bought cheaply. The See's acquisition influenced their commitment to buying businesses with a strong reputation and brand recognition.[8]


A See's Candies store in Sunnyvale, California

According to the corporate website, Charles Alexander See II (1882–1949) arrived in the United States from Canada in 1921[9] with his wife Florence MacLean Wilson See (1885–1956), and his widowed mother Mary Wiseman See (1854–1939). Mary See had developed the recipes that became the foundation of the See's candy business[10] while helping run her husband's hotel on Tremont Island in Ontario.[11] The family opened the first See's Candies shop and kitchen at 135 North Western Avenue in Los Angeles in November 1921. They leased the shop from the French Canadian pioneer of Los Angeles, Amable Lamer.[12] They had twelve shops by the mid-1920s and thirty shops during the Great Depression. In 1936 See's opened a shop in San Francisco. See's first white "all porcelain" store was opened in Bakersfield, California on May 1, 1941.[13] In 1972, the See family sold the company, which generated $4 million in pre-tax profit that year, to Berkshire Hathaway for $25 million.[14]

On January 3, 1972, Blue Chip obtained a controlling interest in See's Candy Shops. Blue Chip later acquired 100% of See's for an overall price of $25 million. Wesco Financial Corporation was an 80.1% owned subsidiary of Blue Chip Stamps until its complete merger into Berkshire Hathaway in 2011.

Warren Buffett has called See's "the prototype of a dream business." (2007)[15]

On June 20, 2012, See's Candies made it into the Guinness Book of World Records for the world's largest lollipop, weighing 7,003 pounds (3,177 kg) and a length of 4 feet (1.2 m) and 8.75 inches (22.2 cm). The previous largest lollipop record stood at a hefty 6,514 pounds (2,955 kg). This giant chocolate lollipop represented 145,000 regular-size lollipops.[16]

See family[edit]

See's candy shop in Hong Kong

Charles Alexander See II was born in Gananoque, Ontario, Canada and came to California in 1921. He came with his wife, Florence, with whom he had three children: Laurance Alexander See (1912-1969),[17] Margaret M. See (1913-1961), Charles B. "Harry" See (1921-1999), who was born after they arrived in the U.S.[18] They lived in Pasadena, California and Charles A. See II worked as a druggist.[19] Matriarch Mary See had been born on Howe Island, Ontario, Canada, and eventually moved back to the town of Gananoque, Ontario, where she and her husband had lived. She died there in 1939 and is buried with her husband at Willowbank Cemetery. [11]

Laurance A. See's 1962 divorce from his wife Elizabeth led to a landmark community property ruling by the California Supreme Court.[20]

Popular culture[edit]

In 1952, Lucille Ball and Vivian Vance spent a half day at the See's Candies store on La Cienega Boulevard in Los Angeles, learning to dip chocolates and work the production line, in preparation for the "Job Switching" episode of "I Love Lucy." The episode, which featured Lucy and Viv getting jobs in a chocolate factory, became one of the most popular in the show's history. [21] In a 1987 Kidsongs video, "What I Want to Be", The Kidsongs Kids visit the See's Candies factory during "The Candy Man" song sequence.

See also[edit]

SF From Marin Highlands3.jpg San Francisco Bay Area portal


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ "About Us." See's Candies. Retrieved on January 18, 2009.
  3. ^ A Peek Inside the See’s Candy Factory - Carolyn Jung
  4. ^ "Contact Us." See's Candies. Retrieved on January 18, 2009.
  5. ^ See's U.S. Shop locations See's Candies. Retrieved on August 11, 2009.
  6. ^ See's International Shop locations See's Candies. Retrieved on November 4, 2009.
  7. ^
  8. ^ Calvey, Mark. "Chuck Huggins, former See's Candies CEO, dies at 87". San Francisco Business Journal. Retrieved 30 May 2013. 
  9. ^ See's Candies website
  10. ^ "Candy Boxes | Custom printed wholesale Candy Boxes". Retrieved 2017-01-10. 
  11. ^ a b Mary Wiseman See, Find A Grave.
  12. ^ Re: Lamer Stuff.
  13. ^ Bakersfield Californian, April 10, 1941, Page 12, "first all-porcelain store"
  14. ^ Calvey, Mark (2015-03-02). "Warren Buffett basks in sweet success of See's Candies, Bank of America deals". Retrieved 2017-02-21. 
  15. ^ Peter Bevelin (2012). A Few Lessons for Investors and Managers from Warren E. Buffett. PCA Publishing and Intermountain Books.
  16. ^ "See's Candies creates world's largest lollipop". Guinness World Records. 23 July 2012. Retrieved 21 January 2013. 
  17. ^ Laurance Alexander See, Find A Grave.
  18. ^ United States Census, 1930; Los Angeles, California
  19. ^ United States Census, 1920; Pasadena, California
  20. ^ See v. See, 64 Cal. 2d 778 (1966).
  21. ^ Pick, Margaret Moos. See's Famous Old Time Candies. Chronicle Books. 

External links[edit]