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.
Karen Kralovic and daughter Kerry Langel opened Ciarrai Jeanne Confections Jan. 29 at 1002 Main St. The business is a purveyor of candies from local and regional vendors who carry on the spirit of Kralovic’s great aunt Sophia, who was a passionate confectioner.
“I loved being around Sophia,” 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 Sophia. They included a lot of taste testing her recipes, including her popular soft peanut brittle.
Kralovic said Sophia started to dip candy when she was 17 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 hotel closed during World War I, Sophia found herself making homemade candies for friends and family. It was her cousin, Carol, who encouraged Sophia to turn passion into profit. The two opened Bruttles in the Spokane Valley.
Today, the factory is still open and the bruttles — peanut brittle, dipped in chocolate without the peanuts — is wildly popular.
Sophia died in 2001 when she was 103. Much of her technique died with her, Kralovic said.
Last October, Kralovic approached Carol about opening a Bruttles location in western Washington and possibly turning it into a franchise.
“Carol suggested that we open our own shop instead,” Kralovic said.
Within several months, Kralovic and her daughter found the location in downtown Sumner and 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, a homemade, chocolate-dipped marshmallow with a caramel center.
Kralovic said she would like to promote other local vendors in her shop. So far, vendors include Mukilteo Candy Company, Madyson Marshmallow from Sumner, Killian Korn from Othello, Seattle Chocolates and Dilettante Chocolates.
Kralovic’s father was in the military, so she was exposed to different cultures.
“Me being from a military family, I would like to feature different candies from around the world,” she said.
Kralovic hopes to add a line of Japanese candies soon.
“My biggest memory was of Okinawa, Japan,” she 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’s 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 some day,” 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 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. Music genres cover the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s.
Langel, Kralovic’s daughter, said she likes being 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 to make 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 candymaker on their resume?”
Ciarrai Jeanne Confections is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and is located at 1002 Main St. in Sumner. For more information, visit www.ciarraijeanne.com. Call 253-732-5601 to place a special order.Reporter Andrew Fickes can be reached at 253-552-7001 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter, @herald_andrew.