Russian immigrant Robert Altshuler arrived in the United States in 1917. Working hard, Altshuler saved his money and learned all the right skills, and by 1950 he was ready to found the Annabelle Candy Company. Named for Altshuler’s daughter and dedicated to delicious, high-quality West Coast treats, Annabelle is ground zero for West Coast candy.

Learning by trial and error, Altschuler arrived at the idea for the Rocky Road bar, a nutty, marshmallowy, incredibly messy but infinitely rewarding bar. The Rocky Road took off, and soon Annabelle moved from its San Francisco, California factory to a newer, expanded factory in Hayward where it prospers still.

Altschuler passed away in 1971, never seeing his company grow to match the powerhouses of Mars and Hershey’s, but still guiding Annabelle to a position of West Coast mainstay that thrives even today. Through canny acquisitions, the company has increased its stable of high-profile candy bars to include Big Hunk and Look (from the Golden Nugget Candy Co.), in addition to the U-NO and universal favorite Abba Zaba (formerly Cardinet Candy Co. confections). The Annabelle Candy Company offers today the same handmade delights that made its name over half a century ago, and its eight permanent offerings enjoy lofty spots in the upper echelons of West Coast snacking.

Thankfully, the retro candy trend has brought Annabelle treats waaaaaaay out East. Curious readers can find an Abba-Zaba or Rocky Road in just about any dedicated candy store and novelty shop, provided the slight mark-up isn’t too much to bear. And you can always order direct from Annabelle’s website: www.annabelle-candy.com

Here’s a brief rundown of Annabelle’s top tier treats (photos courtesy annabelle-candy.com):

Rocky Road

Rocky Road: Tastes just the ice cream bearing its name, though the traditional almonds of rocky road ice cream are replaced here with roasted cashews. I’m not a cashew fan, but I always make an exception for the marshmallow malt of a Rocky Road.

U-NO

U-NO: A truffle-ish center with almond bits coated in milk chocolate, the U-NO dates to the 1920s, by far the oldest candy bar in the Annabelle family (er, by adoption). It’s super fluffy, but don’t let it dry out, lest you eat something akin to chocolate coated styrofoam.
Abba-Zaba
Abba-Zaba: Tom Waits don’t want no Abba-Zaba, but the man’s a certifiable nut anyway. This delicious vanilla-like taffy bar is filled with creamy peanut butter, guaranteed to pull out your fillings but leave you supremely unconcerned, all things considered. Also a 1920s throwback, confirming that the ’20s was the most delicious decade of American confections. The Zaba’s available in two variations, one with a chocolate center instead of peanut butter, and another with green apple taffy and peanut butter.
Big Hunk

Big Hunk: Ah! Truth in adverising indeed! A big fat block of honey nougat made even fatter with roasted peanuts. Very good, and surprisingly low in fat (only 3 grams of fat per 2-ounce bar). Much like the Abba-Zaba, a Big Hunk typically takes me about three weeks to gnaw down. A good investment!

Look

Look: I’ve never come across a Look yet, but its molasses-flavored nougat sprinkled with roasted peants and coated in dark chocolate leaves me, er–Looking.
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