The remarkable history of Annabelle’s

In 1917, in the middle of the Russian Revolution, future Annabelle Candy Company founder Sam Altshuler and a cousin decided to flee to China, escaping by train in borrowed Army uniforms to avoid being conscripted into the service.

The two arrived in Harbin, China, where they took a ship to Japan and then to the U.S., docking in Seattle. From Seattle, 19-year-old Sam took another boat to San Francisco, where he was offered a job in a candy store on Mission Street, beginning his 54-year career in candy.

Sam quickly picked up the trade and began his own small candy company, making confections in his kitchen.

During the late 1920s, Sam sold his candy in front of movie theaters, which didn’t have in-house concessions at the time. He soon developed a following for his product and eventually opened a small sales stand in the Crystal Palace Market.

As his business continued to boom, Sam began to move his family from Russia to the U.S.

However, when the Great Depression hit in 1929, Sam was forced to close his shop and focus on manufacturing instead of retailing, making candy out of a small factory on a shoestring budget. He carried on in this manner throughout the depression, selling his candy wherever he could while saving money to open a larger, more modern candy factory.

In 1932, in San Francisco, he married Sylvia, and two years later they had a daughter, Annabelle.

Unfortunately, the start of World War II brought with it sugar rationing, forcing the small factory to close, so Sam took a job at a shipyard in Sausalito, CA. There he conducted a time and motion study that the U.S. Navy used to streamline its ship manufacturing process. The Navy awarded Sam with a commendation for his contribution to the war effort.

He also worked for a local candy company during the war as a salesman to wholesalers in California’s Central Valley. When the war ended, Sam opened a new candy factory and took on a partner to ensure sufficient capital for future expansion.

In 1950, he bought his partner out and formed a new corporation, naming it the Annabelle Candy Co., after his daughter.

After years of experimenting, the first successful candy from Annabelle was the Rocky Road bar, which Sam named because of the way the top of the bar looked.

In 1965, Sam moved the business across San Francisco Bay to its present location in Hayward, CAlifornia and through the 1970’s Annabelle purchased the Golden Nugget Candy Company adding the Big Hunk and Look candy bars along with the Cardinet Candy Company, makers of U-No and Abba-Zaba bars to the company’s lineup. All candy bars are made in Hayward to this day.

Sam passed away in 1971 leaving behind a candy legacy and big shoes to fill. Not that he had big feet. Annabelle ran the company as did her son Gary until 1997.

In 1997 Susan Gamson Karl, Annabelle’s daughter became President and CEO, managing the day-to-day operations. In 2011, Sam Altshuler was entered into the US Candy Hall of Fame. In that same year, the company was named as the most outstanding female owned business in San Francisco’s East Bay. While nobody at Annabelle been to outer space (yet), they all agree when their spaceship comes, they’ll be sure to pack their suitcases full of candy bars.


8,000 BC: Humans hunt for honey (based on Arana cave painting found in Valencia, Spain)
2800 BC: Nougat invented. Originally called “haloua” or “halwa” from the word “hlou” which means sweet.
4,700-5,500 BC: Oldest remains of honey found in modern day Republic of Georgia
3,500 BC: Pottery in shape of peanut and decorated with peanuts made in South America
3000 BC: Ancient Egyptians use honey to sweeten cakes, embalm the dead and as an offering to their fertility god Min
2000 BC: Date many historians say chocolate was discovered from cacao bean
2000 BC: Babylonian astronomers identified Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn
2000 BC, Amazon: Cocoa, from which chocolate is created, is said to have originated in the Amazon at least 4,000 years ago.
1200: The Aztecs attributed the creation of the cocoa plant to their god Quetzalcoatl, who descended from heaven on a beam of a morning star carrying a cocoa tree stolen from paradise.
1500 BC: Incans of Peru used peanuts as sacrificial offering and entombed with mummies to help in spirit life
1400 BC: Pottery with cacao residue found by American anthropologists in Honduras
450 BC: Greeks ponder existence of other worlds
50: Romans use honey to heal wounds after battles
500’s Chocolate, derived from the seed of the cocoa tree, was used by the Maya Culture, as early as the Sixth Century AD.
Circa 1500’s: One cacao bean traded for a tamale, 100 beans for a turkey hen according to ancient Aztec document
1500’s: Spanish friars introduce cocoa to Europe
1528: Chocolate arrives in Spain: Cortés presented the Spanish King, Charles V with cocoa beans from the New World and the necessary tools for its preparation. Chocolate was a secret that Spain managed to keep from the rest of the world for almost 100 years.
1543: Nicolaus Copernicus suggests Earth and other planets orbit the Sun
1609: The first book devoted entirely to chocolate, Libro en el cual se trata del chocolate, came from Mexico
1609: Galileo introduces telescope to astronomy and discovers moons of Jupiter
1615: Anne of Austria, daughter of Philip III from Spain, introduced the beverage to her new husband, Louis XIII of France, and to the French court.
1643: The French court embraces chocolate: When the Spanish Princess Maria Theresa was betrothed to Louis XIV of France, she gave her fiancé an engagement gift of chocolate, packaged in an elegantly ornate chest.
1650: The chocolate craze which now included candy took hold in Paris and then conquered the rest of France. Chocolate’s reputation as an aphrodisiac flourished in the French courts. Art and literature was thick with erotic imagery inspired by chocolate.
1657: The first chocolate house opened in London in 1657.
1689: noted physician and collector Hans Sloane developed a milk chocolate drink in Jamaica which was initially used by apothecaries, but later sold to the Cadbury Brothers London chocolate houses became the trendy meeting places where the elite London society savored their new luxury. The first chocolate house opened in London advertising “this excellent West Indian drink.”
1674: An avant garde London coffee house goes down in the annals of history for serving chocolate in cakes and also in rolls.
1677: Brazil, later to achieve an important position in the world market, establishes its first cocoa plantations.
1700’s: Nougat made in the Orient, shipped to Marseille France
1700’s: Africans introduce peanuts to North America
1704: Chocolate makes its appearance in Germany, and Frederick I of Prussia reacts by imposing a tax.
1711: Chocolate migrates to Vienna: Emperor Charles VI transfers his court from Madrid to Vienna and along with his Court, comes chocolate.
1730: The transition was hastened by the advent of a perfected steam engine, which mechanized the cocoa grinding process. By 1730, chocolate had dropped in price from three dollars or more per pound to within financial reach of all.
1750: Thomas Wright describes Milky Way as massive disk of stars
1755: Chocolate makes its appearance in The United States.
1765: First chocolate factory in the USA: The production of chocolate proceeded at a faster pace than anywhere else in the world. It was in pre-Revolutionary New England.
1780: The first machine-made chocolate is produced in Barcelona.
1781: Thomas Herschel discovers Uranus
1792: In Germany, the Josty brothers from Grisons opened a chocolate factory in Berlin.
1776: American Revolutionary War soldiers given chocolate in rations and paid in chocolate too
1790’s: Invention of steam engine made mass production of chocolate possible
1800’s: Peanuts grown as a commercial crop in the United States, specifically in Virginia used as food, oil and cocoa substitute.
1828: Dutch chemist invents powdered chocolate by removing about half the natural fat (cacao butter) from chocolate liquor, pulverizing what remained and treating the mixture with alkaline salts to cut the bitter taste. His product became known as “Dutch cocoa,” and it soon led to the creation of solid chocolate.
1810: A survey shows that Venezuela produced half of the world’s chocolate. And one-third is consumed by the Spaniards.
1819: As cocoa plantations spread to the tropics in both hemispheres by the 19th century, the increased production lowered the price of the cocoa beans and chocolate became a popular and affordable beverage.
1828: In Amsterdam, Casparus van Houten invented the cocoa press and produced the first cocoa powder. The powder lead to reduced prices and made chocolate beverages both easier to make and more pleasing to drink. By mixing the cocoa powder with sugar and then remixing it with cocoa butter, he created solids closely resembling modern chocolate.
1830s: Caspar’s son Coenraad Johannes van Houten introduced Dutch process chocolate, the basis for much of modern chocolate, by treating cocoa powder with alkaline salts.
1839: German company Jordan & Timaeus in Dresden, Saxony produced milk chocolate
1846: Neptune discovered by Johann Gottfried Galle and Urbain Le Verrier
1847: The J. S. Fry & Sons chocolate factory, located in Union Street, Bristol, England, moulded a chocolate bar suitable for widespread consumption.
1851: The first time citizens of the United States were introduced to bonbons, chocolate creams, hard candies (called “boiled sweets”) and caramels.
1875: Milk chocolate comes of age: After eight years of experimentation, Daniel Peter from Switzerland puts the first milk chocolate on the market.
1879: Rodolphe Lindt of Berne, Switzerland, invented “conching”, a means of heating and rolling chocolate to refine it. After chocolate has been conched for 72 hours and has more cocoa butter added to it, chocolate becomes “fondant” and thus it melts in the mouth.
1868: Boxes of chocolate candies marketed in England
1890’s: PT Barnum’s circus wagons travel across America yelling, “hot roasted peanuts!” to crowds
September 10, 1898: Samuel Altshuler born in Belarus, Russia
Early 1900’s: Noted scientist George Washington Carver suggests replacing the South’s threatened cotton crop with peanuts
1900: Switzerland takes the leadership role: Spain, where chocolate was first introduced to Europeans, falls far behind. Germany consumes the most per head, followed by the United States, France and Great Britain.
1904: Peanut Butter introduced at St. Louis World’s Fair
1913: Jules Sechaud of Montreux of Switzerland introduced the process for filling chocolates.
1915: The National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) is founded and pushed the boundaries of the emerging aeronautics and astronautics fields.
1917: Sam Altshuler, a Russian immigrant arrives in the United States
1923: The Chocolate Manufacturers Association of the United States of America (CMA) is established.
1925: Edwin Hubble proves galaxies are groups of stars like our own
1930: Pluto discovered by Clyde Tombaugh
1938: World War II: The U.S. government recognized chocolate’s role in the Allied Armed Forces. It allocated valuable shipping space for the importation of cocoa beans that would give many weary soldiers strength. Today, the U.S. Army D-rations include three 4-ounce chocolate bars. Chocolate has even been taken into space as part of the diet of U.S. astronauts.
October 14, 1947: The X-1 airplane broke the sound barrier.
1950: Sam Altshuler invents Rocky Road candy bar
1950: Annabelle Candy Company, Incorporated opens for business in San Francisco, California
October 4, 1957: The Soviet Union successfully launched Sputnik I, the world’s first artificial satellite.
October 1, 1958: NASA began operations, succeeding NACA.
April 9,1959: NASA announced the Mercury Seven’s formation: the first group of American astronauts, Scott Carpenter, L. Gordon Cooper, Jr., John Glenn, Jr., Virgil “Gus” Grissom, Walter Schirra, Jr., Alan Shepard, Jr., and Donald “Deke” Slayton.
February 20, 1962: John H. Glenn, Jr. became the first American to orbit the Earth.
1965: Sam moves the company across the bay to Hayward
1966: TV Series Star Trek debuts
January 27, 1967: Tragedy struck the Apollo program.  A flash fire occurred in the command module during a launch pad test, killing astronauts Lt. Col. Virgil I. Grissom, Lt. Col. Edward H. White, and Roger B. Chaffee
1971: Sam Altshuler passes away and leaves company to his daughter, Annabelle Altshuler Block
1972: Annabelle Candy Company buys Golden Nugget Candy Company of San Francisco, makers of Big Hunk and Look!
July 1975, this site commemorates the first human spaceflight mission managed jointly by two nations.
1977: The blockbuster Star Wars is released
1978: Annabelle Candy Company buys the Cardinet Candy Company, makers of U-No and Abba-Zaba. All bars including Rocky Road now made in Hayward facility.
1980: The Empire Strikes Back is released
April 12, 1981: The first Space Shuttle mission blasted into orbit with astronauts John Young and Robert Crippen aboard.
1983: Return of the Jedi is released
January 28, 1986: Space shuttle Challenger was launched with a crew of seven astronauts. Tragically, 73 seconds after lift-off, the spacecraft exploded, killing its entire crew.
1997: Susan Gamson Karl, Annabelle’s daughter assumes role of President and CEO managing the day-to-day operations
1990: Hubble Space Telescope launches
1990: Captain Beefheart releases album “Safe as Milk” with “Abba-Zaba” song.
1998: Dave Chappelle proclaims: “Abba-Zaba, you’re my only friend” in the movie “Half-baked”
2001: A planet in habitable zone found where life could possibly exist
February 1, 2003: Space shuttle Columbia and its seven member crew were lost during reentry following a sixteen-day mission.
2005: NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope captures infrared light from exoplanets, the first time direct light from exoplanets is observed.
2006: Astronomers demote Pluto from a planet to dwarf planet
2007: NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope detects water vapor for the first time on an exoplanet
2008: Hubble Space Telescope measures first sign of organic molecule on explanet
2009: NASA launches Kepler mission to observe thousands of stars at once looking for other planets like Earth in the galaxy
2009: Dave Klabunde, Annabelle’s Director of Sales and Marketing, inducted into the Candy Hall of Fame
2011: Sam Altshuler inducted into the Candy Hall of Fame
2012: Annabelle Candy Company awarded California Small Business Day Award
2012: Annabelle went solar-powered at its factory
2013: 879 around 678 stars, 134 systems with planets, 3,278 Kepler candidates and confirmed planets
2013: Annabelle introduces Strawberry Abba-Zaba and S’mores Rocky Road