Settled in the Historic District of Boise’s downtown, the Idaho Candy Co. building is a defining landmark of the Boise area. Historically, as well as architecturally, the building is a precious aspect of the Boise downtown. It was built in 1908 (designed by popular Boise architect Hummell) as a candy factory and has remained that way ever since. The company that once boasted a roaring staff of over one hundred is now reduced to twenty, and the specialty candy repertoire reduced to four (Idaho Spud, Cherry Cocktail, Old Faithful, and Owyhee Toffee); this as a result of the gradual decline in popularity and a shift from candy tycoon to novelty item manufacturer. However, this building, this company, is one of Idaho’s dearest treasures that will continue to be cherished for its architecture, and its history.
From the outside, the building appears to have a distinct Federal or Factory style, sandwiched between two other buildings. Building materials for the outer portion of the building are red brick and Boise sandstone quarried from table rock. There are two, barred basement windows that can be seen from the sidewalk, lining the base of the building. There are sandstone encasements for each window on the ground and second floors, curving at the top and remaining a horizontal line beneath. Above the rectangular entrance to the building is a long wooden sine reading Idaho Candy Co. This sign has remained atop the entrance since the opening of the building in 1908.
The ground floor of the building functions as an office and shipping/receiving facility, the office at the front of the building facing the doors and the shipping area in the back. The ground floor is characterized by brick and mortar walls, wood flooring, and wooden beams extending from the floor to the ceiling. The beams were set in place to hold up the 50,000 pound machinery on the upper floors. The color scheme of the entire floor is a white ceiling, red brick wall, and brown wood floor. The office area has recently taken on a triple function as a museum area littered with pictures and curios, and as a gift shop featuring all of the company’s signature candy, bulk candy, and company merchandise.
The second floor is reached by a flight of stairs coming from the ground level; on this floor the toffees and hard candies (Christmas staples in Idaho) are created. Great copper kettles are used to melt the ingredients for the candy which is then removed and placed on long tables that extend nearly the length of the building, then cut and shaped according to the type of candy needed to be made. This floor, the most dependent on outdoor temperature, is occupied mostly in the autumn time when toffee must start its ninety-day process in order to be ready by Christmas. The second floor also contains a small freight elevator that is used to bring raw ingredients to make the toffee. The elevator however has a lower weight limit than that of the weight of the ingredients, so large pallets must be unloaded, placed onto the elevator in two or more separate loads, unpacked on the second floor, then reassembled into the massive pallet form. The second floor resembles the first in wall and ceiling structure, differing only in its production style concrete flooring. It is evident on this floor, as with the third floor and the basement, that the building was constructed for purpose rather than style.
By ascending a single flight of stairs leading from the second floor, a person can reach the third floor that functions as the candy center manufacturing area. On this floor, the centers for the Cherry Cocktail, the Old Faithful, and the Idaho Spud Bar are made. The third floor is the host to two major machines. The first being the aforementioned center creator, the second being the remnants of the old power generator. The power generator functions mainly as a relic nowadays, however, before the factory had electricity, it was that generator that carried power throughout the factory through a system of pulleys and steam pipes. The third floor is also unique in the appearance of skylights (a feature that is thought to have begun with this building); the skylights were used in the building as the primary source of light during the day because of the lack of windows. In the winter, the skylights took on a double function of creating a minute amount of heat; a feature that remains useful as the building still doesn’t have a heating or cooling temperature system.
The basement of the building is the chocolate making and wrapping facility of the building abundant in supportive wooden beams, and chocolate making machinery. The basement, being underground, is kept cool year round for specifically for chocolate handling. It contains various machines; among them is a building-length cooling tunnel onto which the company’s signature bars go to cool down for packaging. In a room kept separate from the chocolate making area by wood paneling, chocolates are hand inspected, hand packaged, and then machine sealed. The style of this floor is unique only in the various shelves that have been added to the building through its history and hung on the brick wall by nail.
The building is a mainstay on 8th street in Boise, and will continue to bless Idaho with its amazing gift of candy making. History will not forget its fleet of spud trucks in the early days of candy delivery. History will not forget its ninety-six year old woman who, according to the National Enquirer, consumed a pound of chocolate a day in her over eighty years at the factory. History will not forget the countless visitors to Idaho that this company has satisfied with a chocolate covered marshmallow. History will not its treasured legacy, and its Idahoan family atmosphere, no, it is simply not possible that history will forget the legend that is the Idaho Candy Company.