Just in time for Valentine’s Day, there is a slice of nostalgia and a serving of sweetness on the corner of Kincaid Avenue and Main Street in downtown Sumner.
On Tuesday, Jan. 29, Karen Kralovic and daughter Kerry Langel opened Ciarrai Jeanne Confections at 1002 Main Street, a purveyor of candies from local and regional vendors that carry on the spirit of Kralovic’s Great Aunt Sophia, who, in her time, was a passionate confectioner.
“I loved being around Sophie,” Kralovic said, remembering her childhood years. “And it wasn’t just the candy. She was a wonderful lady.”
Kralovic remembered visits her family took to Spokane to visit Great Aunt Sophia. Family visits included a lot of taste testing of Great Aunt Sophia’s recipes, including her popular soft peanut brittle.
Kralovic said that Great Aunt Sophia started out at 17 dipping candy with three of her sisters at the Tru-Blu Biscuit Company in Spokane. From there, she went on to dip candy at the Davenport Hotel in Spokane.
After the Davenport Hotel closed during World War I, Great Aunt Sophia eventually found herself making homemade candies for friends and family. It was her cousin Carol who encouraged Great Aunt Sophia to turn passion into profit. The two opened Bruttles in the Spokane Valley.
Today, the factory is still open and the bruttles, which is peanut brittle without the peanuts and dipped in chocolate, is wildly popular.
Great Aunt Sophia lived until almost 104 and died in 2001, Kralovic said. Unfortunately, much of her technique died with her, Kralovic added.
Last October, Kralovic approached cousin Carol about opening a Bruttles in western Washington and possibly franchising.
“Carol suggested that we open our own shop instead,” Kralovic said.
So within several months Kralovic and her daughter found an ideal location in downtown Sumner and quickly moved in.
“We decided to wholesale products from Bruttles,” Kralovic said.
Products sold under the Bruttles name at Ciarrai Jeanne Confections include homemade caramels, fudge, a variety of flavors of candied bark, Bruttles crunch, and caramello, which are homemade marshmallow with a caramel center and dipped in chocolate.
Kralovic said she would like to promote local vendors in the shop and so far has a great start. Vendors include Mukilteo Candy Company; Madyson Marshmallow from Sumner; Killian Krunch from Othello in eastern Washington; Seattle Chocolates and Dilettante Chocolates.
Having a father who was in the military also exposed Kralovic to different world cultures.
“Me being from a military family, I would like to feature different candies from around the world,” Kralovic said.
Kralovic is hoping to add a line of Japanese candies soon.
“My biggest memory was of Okinawa, Japan,” Kralovic said. “I lived there during my teenage years. Japan was totally different. You didn’t realize how amazing it was until you got home and missed it.”
Most of all, Kralovic said she is excited to partner with her daughter and keep the love of candy making in the family.
“I wanted my daughter to be part of it, so she can take it on someday,” Kralovic said. “It’s a way of keeping Sophia’s memory alive.”
To give the shop a little old-time feel, Kralovic has added black and white photos of Great Aunt Sophia and her family as a well as a modern day replica of a phonograph radio that plays satellite radio, cds, mp3s, records and casettes. Genres of music cover the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s.
Kralovic’s daughter Kerry is excited to be part owner in a candy shop.
“The idea even now is mind-blowing,” she said.
Langel is looking forward to the future when she and her mom will begin making their own candy to sell in the store.
“The most exciting thing about owning a candy shop is making the candy yourself,” Langel said. “Who doesn’t want candy maker on their resume?”
Ciarri Jeanne Confections is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and is located at 1002 Main St. Visit them at www.ciarraijeanne.com. Call 253-732-5601 to special order. Karen Kralovic and Kerry Langel promise to ship anywhere.
Reporter Andrew Fickes can be reached at 253-552-7001 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter, @herald_andrew.