Familiar Faces: Snook’s confectioner appreciates sweet family life

By: Menka Belgal, Telegraph Correspondent
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Jim Snook and his family, residents of El Dorado Hills, own Snook’s Candies on Sutter Street in Folsom. The popular chocolate factory has been in the family since 1963 and now has its third generation of Snooks working there.

What is your role at Snooks?

My role is overseeing the production of our products, website orders and updates, and a bit of most everything that it takes to keep the doors open seven days a week.

How long have you been doing this for?

I caught the creative bug for confectionery in 1975 while attending American River College. So to date it’s been 37 years.

What do you like most about your job?

Without a doubt, what gives me the most satisfaction is customer compliments and positive feedback.

What makes Snooks so successful?

We are in our third generation of candy makers, and our ability to produce our product on site gives us an advantage. When you eat one of our confections like a caramel, peanut brittle, toffee, truffle, etc., there is no where else that a person can get it. We make it here and we sell it here.

How do you develop the recipes for your chocolates?

When we develop a new candy, we go through a fine-tuning process. Small adjustments are made to perfect the piece. I really enjoy taking ideas and creating something delicious.

Have you introduced any new varieties over the past five decades?

We have developed many new varieties. After mastering the original confectionery skills I learned from my father, I was enticed to create new candies. One of the first pieces I created was our Snookerbar. I always liked a Snickers bar as a child, and I took our fresh-made caramel, poured it over our own fresh-roasted peanuts. After cooling, I flipped it over and added a peanut butter cream. It was an instant hit with its chewy nutty and creamy texture all at once. The dark chocolate Snookerbar is still one of my favorites. It has an amazing blast of flavor. When we opened our Folsom location in 1985 we invested in some equipment which enabled us to greatly expand our capability. We develop all of our truffles and soft-centered chocolates. When my wife Renee started adding her touch to the business, it brought the whole look and feel of our store to another level. Renee has an amazing skill with packaging design, colors and ribbons. I always made good candy and she makes it look good too.

What hasn’t changed?

Our commitment to only use the best has not changed. As a small company, we can control the quality.

What are some of the most interesting things that have happened to you?

After all these years of hard work and commitment, we do tend to receive quite a bit of attention from the media. When a holiday is near and people think of chocolate, we are a go-to place since we make our products on view to the public. We have been fortunate to have many television and radio personalities visit our store here in Historic Folsom.

Do you give back to the community?

Hardly a day goes by that we do not receive a request for a fundraiser or great cause. We have been in business going on our 50th year so the list grows each year. We donate products to some causes, and gift certificates to others. From an ice cream social for the Historical Society’s annual Night in History, to Sutter Street Theatre’s annual Gala dessert table and so many non-profits in between. We are naturally a product that is attractive to anyone.

What hobbies do you enjoy?

I enjoy the outdoors. What better place to enjoy it than Folsom. I love Folsom Lake, American River Trail, and our proximity to the Sierra Mountains, the ocean, Yosemite or Lake Tahoe. There’s unbelievable beauty in any direction.

Tell us about your family.

I was one of six kids, five boys and one girl. My wife Renee was the only girl with four brothers. She and I have three sons; Eric, 27, Daniel, 24, and Alex, 22. Eric is working full time in our business and has mastered the confectionery craft. Daniel and Alex both work part time in our business and are college students.

What are you most proud of?

Without a doubt I am most proud to have my family. The support I have received from my wife and kids has been instrumental in the success of our endeavor. I can say that I feel their support and respect and likewise I respect and support them.

What causes are you passionate about?

Kids. I enjoyed being involved with our boys with the many activities they were in. I coached youth soccer for 11 years and was an assistant scoutmaster for a Folsom Boy Scout Troop. Eric is an Eagle Scout. In our business, we work with many teens and young adults and it is very satisfying to see the skills they gain by working alongside co-workers and directly with the public. We teach excellent customer service skills which reap huge benefits for these young employees. They gain so much confidence in themselves and their social skills are improved in a big way.

What is one thing about you people might be surprised to learn?

Eric and I use our large copper kettles to brew all grain beer for our own enjoyment. For many years I wanted to take advantage of our equipment and facility to brew beer. There is a lot of cleaning and sanitizing in the process and our candy stove is marvelous for boiling a 15 gallon batch. We started brewing when Eric turned 21.