Q: How did Shotwell Candy Co. get started?
A: Shotwell Candy Co. 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. out of my family's kitchen.
Since I had a day job at the time as a corporate attorney (which soaked up most of my day time hours) and I had wife and three young children (which I wanted to spend as much time with as possible), I would wait until 8:00 pm or so to begin my nightly caramel work. As the business grew, I found myself in the kitchen from 8:00 p.m. until 1:00 a.m. most every night of the week cooking, cutting, wrapping and packaging caramels. Family and friends also helped immensely when orders started coming faster than I could handle and we were known to throw "shipping parties" in order to entice friends into helping us prepare shipments in exchange for copious amounts of food and beverage. While we've since graduated to a larger, stand-alone FDA approved space, Shotwell Candy Co. simply wouldn't be where it is today without my family and friends.
Q: Where did the name from Shotwell Candy Co. come from?
A: Shotwell Candy Co. is named in after my great-grandfather, L. Shotwell George, who was born in 1906. Grandpa Shot, as we called him, owned and operated a general goods store in Aliceville, KS for the bulk of his life (1922 - 1971).
My grand-mother, mother and other family members vividly recall sneaking caramels and other classic candies from the candy bins located in the store while Grandpa Shot (who had quite a sweet tooth himself) looked the other way.
Q: What makes your caramels different from other brands?
A: 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.
Q: Who is responsible for creating your logo, packaging, website and product photos?
A: We are 100% responsible (good or bad) for every single aspect of the business. Creative control was very important to us and, quite frankly, we learned very quickly that "outsourcing" these functions was no where near affordable as we were launching the business.
Q: What’s been the most rewarding part of your business?
A: 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.
Q: What’s your favorite confection … other than your own?
A: I’m a sucker for confections of many types. I’d have to go with the Bit-O-Honey. Can’t quit eating them.
Q: Do you wholesale your caramels to retail partners?
A: We love our retail partners and we do wholesale our caramels throughout the United States. If you'd like samples or wholesale pricing, please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org requesting more information and letting us know a little about your store (a website or social media reference would work great)!
Q: Other than ordering online, where can I find your caramels?
A: While the list of retail partners changes throughout the seasons, and not all flavors are in-stock at any given location, you can have a look at this map for the most current list of retail partners: