Brown and Haley, the company made famous by its confection Almond Roca, started when in 1912 when two friends, Harry Brown and J.C. Haley, decided to form a partnership and make candy.
In 1923, the company created a crunchy, log shaped, candy piece infused with butter and coated with chocolate and almonds. A Tacoma librarian dubbed this delicious concoction ‘Almond Roca’ and word spread quickly! In 1927, the company developed its now signature pink canister which extended the candy’s shelf life significantly. The candy was shipped to soldiers worldwide during World War II and then to other wars including Vietnam and the Korean War.
Did you know there are many different flavors of Almond Roca? Mocha Roca, dark roca, dark chocolate peppermint roca, cashew roca, and sea salt caramel roca (my favorite!) top the list of favorites.
Brown and Haley are also famous for their Mountain Bars. Created in 1915, the ‘Mt. Tacoma Bar’ was a favorite of GIs from ‘Camp Lewis,’ now called Joint Base Lewis McChord. The soldiers training for war had a sweet tooth that Brown and Haley was happy to supply. The original Mountain Bar was a vanilla fondant hand dipped in chocolate and rolled in peanuts. Due to increasing sales and the conflicting names of Mt. Rainier, the name of this confection was changed to the Mountain Bar. Today, Brown and Haley makes three kinds of mountain bars: Vanilla, Cherry, and Peanut Butter (my favorite).
The Tacoma retail outlet store is a piece of history in itself. The building started its life as a ticket booth during the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair. One of the owners purchased the booth hoping to turn it into a yurt style cabin for a property he owned on Washington’s peninsula. When he was told that he could not transport the building across the Narrow’s Bridge, the building became the retail outlet for the Tacoma Brown and Haley Factory.
Though the factory has not conducted tours in over 20 years, the ladies in the shop are very knowledgeable and happy to tell you all about the history of this sweet company. Can’t you just hear the carnival music of the World’s Fair when you look up at the ceiling of this magical building?
Not sure you like almond roca? If you visit the retail store, you will have ample opportunity to find out! Not only do they sample all the different varieties of roca, you will also have the opportunity to try the Mountain Bars and any other confection you desire. Try them all!
Visiting this little shop is like stepping back in time. The staff is helpful and the sweets, delicious. You just might need a box to carry home all your new treats.
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