Old-fashioned candies with a twist – handmade caramel apples, caramel pops, and caramel popcorn. Rocky road chocolates made with homemade Bavarian creme marshmallows, pecans, and caramel. S’mores on a stick. Irish whisky and chocolate cherry fudges. Maple pecan brittle and bacon toffee bars (honest!). Forget your willpower.
Santa Clarans Kristen and Dean Scott, owners of Artisan Candies, have been tinkering with old family recipes and tempting people with their candies since 2005. They are among the approximately 250 artisans you’ll find at the 40th Annual San Jose Harvest Festival November 23 – 25, downtown at the San Jose Convention Center.
“Our candy is handmade with a lot of love, no preservatives, and all natural ingredients,” says Kristen, who grew up in Santa Clara and graduated from San Jose State University. “I’m a third generation candy maker. Cooking and baking are big in my family, and my mom taught me how to cook peanut brittle.”
Not long after Kristen and Dean, a chiropractor from Gary, Indiana, married in 2001, the San Jose marketing company Kristen was working for as an art director, folded.
“When the dot.com bust happened, Dean and I started looking for a business we could do together,” says Kristen. “We’re a team. Dean is not only my life partner but my teammate. We can’t do this without each other.”
The Scott’s home office has always been in Santa Clara. They rented kitchen space at several different Santa Clara and San Jose locations before buying their own space for a new manufacturing kitchen and shop at 4432 Pearl Avenue, San Jose, in August 2008. Walk-in business and their online store (www.artisancandies.com) bring in year-round sales.
Seasonal festival sales bring in the biggest piece of their business. Kristen estimates that about 10 thousand people a weekend attend the seven-week spring Renaissance Festival in southern California. The San Jose Harvest Festival estimated an attendance of about 15 thousand in 2011.
Look for two other Santa Clara artisans at the San Jose Harvest Festival: Sue Toorans, who makes colorful anodized aluminum jewelry (www.featherweightfinery.com), and Paul Harding, who sculpts Nizhoni Tse Sandstone (called chocolate rock) into unique candleholders and coasters (www.secondcityarts.com/sand.htm).
Everything is handmade in the U.S.A. at the San Jose Harvest Festival, which is the largest indoor show on the West Coast. Children can make their own arts and crafts in the KidZone. For festival hours, other information, and tickets, visit www.harvestfestival.com or call 1-800-346-1212. A donation of non-perishable food for the Second Harvest Food Bank will get you a $2 admission discount.
“Please support your local business people!” says Kristen.