There are lots of attractions in and around the Denver area, but you might not know that Hammond’s Candies is one of them. This candy factory specializes in old fashioned, handmade candies and has been operating out of Denver since 1920. The cool, dry climate is perfect for making all of the suckers, candy canes, caramels and marshmallows. Fortunately for visitors, Hammond’s offers free tours of their working factory Monday through Saturday all year round.
The tours run every half hour and consist of a short video that documents the history of the long-running company, followed by a great tour of the factory where you get to see all kinds of candy being produced – by hand – by expert candymakers. They produce lollipops, candy canes, classic ribbon candy, a variety of all natural hard candies, marshmallows, caramels and even taffy, and also offer a line of handmade chocolates in case hard candies aren’t your thing.
The thing that I think is most fascinating is that all of the candymaking training happens on the job, meaning that employees learn from one another as well as from trainers, passing down the candy making tradition from one person to another. The candy makers are also cross trained so that they learn all (or most, anyway) of the skills needed to produce the wide variety of old fashioned candies that Hammond’s sells. The people pictured above are hand-twisting and hand-shaping candy canes. The man pictured below is hand-pulling a long piece of red, white and green sugar for ribbon candy.
After seeing candy making in process, you’ll walk down a hallway that is full of vintage candy making machinery. Although not all are in use today – for instance the gummy candy presses below aren’t currently used for production – many of the machines at Hammonds, including the gadget that shapes the ribbon candy, are more than a half-century old. They keep all of their machinery (even the “retired” stuff) for those times they need a spare part or two.
Next, you hit the packaging room. This room is much, much cooler than the production room, although they are separated by just a few feet of wall and some cooling chambers that the candies pass through. The candies come across various belts and are packaged literally minutes (probably just seconds on the short belts!) after they are made. The packaging is also all done by hand, whether a small scoop of hard candies is funneled into a shiny gift bag or a small assortment is hand selected to have just the right ratio.
The final stop on the tour is the company gift shop, where you can buy all kinds of sweet, brightly colored confectioners. The caramel colored marshmallows are a favorite of mine, with their sticky vanilla caramel and fluffy, handmade marshmallows. And it’s impossible not to love the bright lollipops that come in a plethora of flavors.
Overall, this tour is a great one to stop by and take – especially if you’re a foodie who is interested in the candy making process or a kid that can’t resist brightly colored candies. The tour is free and you get a couple of samples when you stop in, too, and there are usually some “oops” candies that taste great but broke during packaging, etc. that can be picked up for a lot less than the candies in the full priced gift shop.
5735 N. Washington Street
Monday – Friday, 9am – 3pm, every 30 minutes
Saturday, 10am – 3pm, every 30 minutes