Almond Roca, Tacoma's top candy, still going strong after almost 100 years

TACOMA, Wash. -- It’s known as the candy that travels, but the makers of Almond Roca make their home in Tacoma.

And the candy production in their factory shows no signs of slowing down.

The first thing you notice is a slow-motion waterfall of toffee creeping along a cooling machine to make sure it’s not too chewy and not too hard.

“It is the way we create the toffee,” said Kathi Rennaker with Brown and Haley, the company behind Almond Roca. “It has a bit of an aeration in it so instead of being that harder brittle break, you have a toffee piece that cracks or crumbles in your mouth.”

Almond Roca has been famous around the globe since World War II. The candy-maker struck a contract with the military and sent off tins of Almond Roca with troops overseas.

It’s now sold in more than 35 countries, and every piece originates in Tacoma.

“We like to say we take the words Tacoma, Washington more places than anyone else,” said Rennaker. “It’s printed on every piece of packaging and on every case that gets shipped out.”

Harry Brown and J.C. Haley established their company in Tacoma more than 100 years ago, and came up with their Almond Roca creation in 1923.

While the recipe and ingredients haven’t changed over the years, the process has.

The company shut down for two months last year to install a new machine that can now create more than 3 million pieces of Almond Roca a day.

As it cools, the long sheets of butter crunch toffee are cut into ribbons and then individual pieces, closely watched and inspected along the way.

Those pieces are then drenched in milk chocolate before being covered in a cascade of chopped almonds.

A few inspections later and they are wrapped in foil, and the last step is packaging before their travels around the world begin.

Brown and Haley employs 130 workers to help create the candy in Tacoma, and those numbers double with seasonal help during their busiest time at Christmas and gearing up for the Chinese New Year.