Well this time I had enough time to schedule this one. The magic word was 'chocolate'! I was going to write that down immediately and respond to that email immediately. We had to submit our names immediately as there was a limit to the number of participants for this event. Immediacy was vital here - I couldn't miss out on free chocolate!
The event was an exclusive peek at the new See's Candies store at Keystone at the Crossing in Indianapolis. I waited a couple of weeks (seemed like forever) to hear if I was one of the lucky bloggers to make the cut and get the official invite. My darling fiance got his email before me and I thought okay, we're good then because each person was allowed to bring one guest. A few minutes later my email came through. I took my mom as my guest because if I had not she would have protested highly. Oh and we were sworn to secrecy. Private event, no talking about it so we didn't get mobbed at the store.
We get to the mall early and see that the store had already opened for business. They did a 'soft opening' before Christmas. For the non-marketing types out there, what a 'soft opening' means is that there wasn't any fanfare, very little press, etc when they opened the store. This event was the 'grand opening' - i.e. think advertising, which is part of why us bloggers were there. The store looks small and I wasn't quite sure what to expect. So we go check in and are greeted by several employees and are immediately offered samples. We did have to sign an affidavit to have our photographic image used and that was fine.
After some sampling, the festivities began. We were welcomed and a history of the company was given. An introduction of the staff was also given. The impressive point for me was the fact that Sees Candies uses natural ingredients. The ingredient list on each box has items you can recognize and pronounce. Their product does have a shelf life as there are no preservatives.
Now I must include the warning that only the lollipops are made in a factory that has no contact with nuts. All of the chocolates come into contact with nuts so if you have an allergy be warned. Now that's not to say that any non-nut-containing chocolate will cause an allergic reaction but awareness must be made.
Not having an allergy I let myself indulge in several samples. First I tried the Scotchmellow, which is one of the companies most popular flavors. It is a honey marshmallow with a carmel base covered in dark chocolate. Highly recommended In no particular order I also tried the Milk Bordeaux which is a signature piece made from brown sugar and buttercream. This comes in either milk or dark chocolate. I tried the lemon buttercream truffle and loved it! The almond square with milk chocolate, roasted almonds and caramel was divine. I really do not remember the rest of what I tried, but after five or so you get a sugar high and well, the memory takes a break. There were sugar free candies available for purchase but I did not try any.
So the staff gathers us for some info on the company and hands out hair nets. They referenced the classic I Love Lucy episode where Lucy and Ethel are in the candy factory trying to pack boxes and do such a poor job. It's a classic episode. For our group, it lead to a competition in packing candy boxes. It was much harder than it looked as you were not wearing gloves and were not supposed to make contact with the candy or the brown paper candy cups that it goes in. It was a lot of fun. Being the shy and reserved person I am not, I volunteered and was one of the first six to compete. I did not win but the best part was you were able to keep the box you packed. I packed milk and dark chocolates with chocolate centers.
Of course the love of my life just had to take a photo of me in my hair net. Well the women at the event out numbered the men but there were a few and the men were gracious and let most of us women go first. Finally the men competed so I got my revenge with the camera phone.
Even my mom was able to compete. The staff did not differentiate between bloggers and their guests which I thought was great. I've been to events where guests were allowed but only certain participants were given opportunities.
After the candy packing contest the staff had a trivia game. Erik and I both won a small box of truffles for answering questions about the company. The staff then thanked us for coming to the event and reminded us to pick up our goody bags on the way out.
Well, let me tell you, I knew we were going to be given samples and I knew we were getting a goody bag. What I did not know was that the goody bag would have so much in it! It contained a one pound box of nuts and chews, a box of peanut brittle, a box of hard candy and a box of lollipops. It also contained a book about the company and a coupon. It was one of the best opening events I've ever been to. The marketing approach to invite us bloggers was well played and thought out.
My mom thought it was the funnest thing ever, she got to sample all this chocolate and brought a bunch home. I will tell you that so many of us liked the products so well that we did purchase candy on top of what we were given.
This company started on the west coast in 1921 and I had heard of it and had sampled the candy before in my travels. It is a treat for Indianapolis to get this store in our city.
I do recommend going to the store and trying the candy. Samples are free. For some of us that grew up with the Fannie Mae candy shops and remember the candy counter at the G.C. Murphy's in Fountain Square, this is a flashback type of place to visit.