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Snooks brings on the romance

By: Rachel Zirin, Senior Reporter
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In 1982, Renee Snook went to the store to exchange some moldy bread at the Arden Fair Mall. Jim Snook was at his parents’ candy store stretching out the peanut brittle. Both their eyes locked.

“He had his name tag on his shirt, so I said, ‘Hi Jim, it looks hot back there.’ I didn’t even know what I was doing, but my feet weren’t moving!” Renee said. “He asked what my name was, so I told him. Then I got my bread and left.”

Every Saturday after that, Renee would go shopping and saw Jim working at the candy store. One time, he decided to get her number.

“He yelled my name and came running after me,” she said. “I said, ‘Yes, Jim, what can I do for you?’ That’s how it all began.”

Snooks Candies and Chocolate Factory was established in 1963 as Country Candies by John and Jeannine Snook. After years of success, the couple moved to Tahoe City and opened up Snooks Candies, but after 17 years, they retired and sold the business.

In 1985, Jim, son of John and Jeannine, and his wife Renee opened up shop in Historic Folsom, in the lower level of the Hacienda building. In 1999, Jim and Renee bought the business from Jim’s parents and things took off.

Jim brought the convection and creative side to candy making, and Renee brought a woman’s touch to packaging. From pink donut boxes to printed ribbons, Renee upgraded the look to compliment the quality of the chocolate.

“People would come in and want to give our products as a gift, but we didn’t have anything, but pink donut boxes,” Renee said. “I gave it a personalized touch. I really wanted to honor the quality of the chocolates themselves.”

In 2002, Snooks moved to its current corner location, at 731 Sutter Street, and that was when they were able to design it the way they always imagined.

“It’s rare to see chocolatiers working with their chocolates right there in front of you,” Renee said. “And then to have the confectionery side making brittles, hard candies and caramel corns, it’s also rare. To see all that in action, to get the smells and be in a family atmosphere, that experience doesn’t cost a thing. We really wanted to share that with the public.”

As companies grow and cut corners on ingredients, Snooks did the opposite.

“Companies think about how the make their product have a longer shelf-life, but for us, we always ask what we can do to keep things at the highest quality we can do,” Jim said. “We also built a wine cooler/chocolate chiller. It’s a chocolate room, which is where we store all of our products. Wine and chocolate are held at the same temperature – 59 degrees. You don’t want it too cold because when you pull it out, it can condensate, and you obviously don’t want it too warm.”

Renee said that if anyone were to go to the Snooks’ home and look for chocolate, they’ll find it in their wine cooler.

When asked what their favorite thing about their business is, they both said working together as a family.

“I worked with my father for many years, and now my kids are working with Renee and me,” Jim said. “People always say they would never work with their husband or wife, but for us it works, even though it doesn’t allow a lot of family time outside of work.”

Renee said everyone supported and respects each other, and they are a huge family.

“There is us, the Snooks, and then there are people who grew up with Snooks Candies. When they come in and share it with their families when they are grown with children, to me, there is no better gift,” Renee said. “It’s all about family and community.”

Three generations of Snooks have worked in the shop. While John is retired, you will still see him walking down Sutter Street and hanging out in the store. Jim and Renee’s three sons work at the shop, along with their roommates and cousin.

During Valentine’s Day, Snooks will have their special hearts selection that includes many options for everyone. Lovers can come grab the largest heart of chocolates, fathers can come grab a cute one for their daughters, and co-workers can pick up a little something that is on the friendly side.