(02/13/13) - Many of us are thinking about sweet treats for
Valentine's Day. Some of the best is made in Michigan. One Bay City
business has been making yummy candy for more than 100 years.
The folks at St. Laurent Brothers hear from candy lovers around the nation who send in orders that can only be filled here.
"We get calls from Florida, Texas, from Arizona, all over," said Steve Frye, St. Laurent Brothers vice president.
The store is located on Water Street and is always busy, especially around Valentine's Day.
"Hand-dipped clusters and chocolates. That's kind of a no-brainer this time of year," Frye said.
Up to 300 pounds of chocolate is melted in a large vat.
"We bring it in 10 pounds blocks, solid blocks, blend it together, two different kinds of chocolate and that's our chocolate," Frye said.
The warm, gooey concoction is mixed with nuts.
We hand dip our clusters and of course we're using our own nuts that we roasted upstairs, so they are fresher and they are better.
Tart cherries from Traverse City combined with St. Laurent Brothers chocolate results in a truly sweet Michigan-made candy.
Producing delicious treats keeps customers coming back year after year.
"Oh, absolutely. You can't even compare the difference between their candy and the grocery store candy," said Kelly Kokaly-Mead, a customer from Bay City.
"We have a very, very loyal group of customers," Frye said.
But what really has put the business on the map is peanut butter, which was first made here in 1904.
"Peanut butter is probably the best selling. It's all natural. We bring in two types of peanuts from the Southwest and Southeast," Frye said.
roasted peanuts come down a conveyor belt and into a grinder. The
finished product squeezes into tubs and jars. You can buy it at health
food stores in the Flint and Detroit area but, "Most of our product is
sold right here," Frye said.
The freshness of the peanut butter is a point of pride.
"No preservatives, nothing added to it. No sugars, no hydrogenated oil, nothing. It's been a good seller and increasing as people become more health conscious," Frye said.
The location of St. Laurent Brothers was originally a hotel and saw a lot of business when the lumber industry was king.
"The building has a colorful past. It was built during the Civil War," Frye said.
The nostalgia of shopping in a locally-owned store filled with wonderful smells pulls in customers.
"I love the place," said Kirk Mead, of Bay City.
"People like to come in, look at made in Michigan stuff and have local kids wait on them. It's worked for us," Frye said.
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