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Company: Shotwell Candy Co.
Founder/Owner: Jerrod Smith
Known for: Caramels (featured in the July 2014 Treatsie monthly box)
Treatsie: How did Shotwell get started?
JS: Shotwell started as an effort for me to create a great holiday gift for friends and family in 2012. After researching various caramel-making methods and dozens of recipes, I landed on what I thought would make the absolute best caramel (both in terms of flavor and texture) that could be made. I then set out to perfect the recipe over a period of weeks working with different ingredient types (I tried 12 different butters alone) and cooking to different temperatures until I finally landed on what I thought was a great caramel. After enough people told me I should “sell these caramels” I decided to launch Shotwell Candy Co. Incidentally, Shotwell is my great-grandfather’s middle name.
Treatsie: What makes your caramels different from other brands?
JS: I think there are a number of things that make our caramels different, but two main areas lead the pack in my mind. The first is a little philosophical and relates to the core principles of Shotwell Candy. Above all, I want every customer of Shotwell Candy to know that they are getting an honestly made, authentic product that was created by a real person whose only motivation at the time of creation was to make the best gift for my closest friends and family that I could make. Marketing gimmicks, synthetic flavors and overly fancy packaging are the opposite of what we stand for, and we take great pride in knowing that every single aspect of Shotwell Candy was created 100% by us – the recipes, the logo, the packaging, the production methods, the website, the photos of our products, everything. While “handmade” and “small batch” get thrown around a lot these days, we live by them and truly believe that is THE way for our caramels to be made.
The second main area is an extension of the first, though a little more technical in nature. Without giving too much of our recipe and process away, I believe we are very much in the minority of caramel makers that actually caramelize sugar in the candy making process. We use pure cane sugar (as many do) in our caramels. Pure cane sugar is sucrose, and the chemist out there will tell you that sucrose only begins to caramelize in earnest at temperatures above 320 degrees Fahrenheit. Our product is cooked well above that temperature, thereby truly caramelizing sugar for a more pure and authentic “caramel” flavor. I think most caramel companies, if being honest, would tell you that they never get their sugar to a temperature that actually caramelizes the sugar.
Treatsie: What’s been the most rewarding part of your business?
The rewards are numerous but the primary upsides are (i) having a creative outlet that I have total control over and (ii) watching someone enjoy one of my caramels. There aren’t many feelings in the world like watching someone truly enjoy a product that you’ve created. Never gets old.
Treatsie: What’s next for Shotwell? Any cool, new products we can expect to see?
The future is so exciting that it’s really hard to believe that I get pleasure of tagging along for the ride. Creating new flavors is one of my favorite parts of the process, and I hope to be launching one or two new flavors (even if on a very limited basis) this coming fall and holiday season. We’re also expanding our packaging line to include a “sampler” type offering and some additional packaging types that will increase our customers’ access to our caramels.
When and where was your last vacation?
Last vacation was to the wine country of Sonoma Valley, Napa Valley and San Francisco.
What’s your favorite confection … other than your own?
I’m a sucker for confections of many types. I’d have to go with the Bit-O-Honey. Can’t quit eating them.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever eaten?
If by crazy you mean most unusual, I’d have to say that it was a meal a couple years ago in Memphis at an amazing local restaurant where we were served a series of dishes created from every part of a pig. I mean EVERY part…and it was great.