A walk down a candied memory lane


Solomon Gustavo • Larry Erickson worked for Pearson’s Candy Company in St. Paul in the 1960s and 70s. The longtime Arden Hills resident took a July tour of the candy factory for a trip down memory lane.

Solomon Gustavo • Larry Erickson’s family joined him on the tour of the offices and candy factory — which required smocks and hairnets — and were shown around by Pearson’s Candy CEO Michael Keller. From left, Erickson’s son-in-law David Scodellaro, daughter Cathy Scodellaro, granddaughter Kate Scodellaro, Keller, Larry himself holding the shoulders of his wife Becky, and daughter Susan Caldwell.

Forty-year Arden Hills resident Larry Erickson spent a chunk of his professional life doing accounting work for Pearson’s Candy Company in St. Paul in the 1960s and 70s. 

He came to the job like any other — it was time for something new and it was available. But there’s a little enchantment that comes with working for a candy company.

“Out of the places he’s worked, Pearson’s was his favorite,” said Erickson’s daughter, Susan Caldwell. 

Erickson and his wife, Becky, have four kids, three daughters and a son, who all graduated from Concordia Academy in Roseville. 

Caldwell lives in Maryland and her sister, Cathy Scodellaro, lives in Florida. But they were back in Arden Hills for a summer reunion of sorts when the family, caught up in catching up and reminiscing, came up with an idea of a way to spend time together — remembering dad’s favorite old job by touring the candy factory. 

Pearson’s CEO Michael Keller was happy to oblige and offered a personal tour to Erickson and his family. 

Arriving bright and early July 27 at the Pearson’s factory, which was built back in the early 1900s on Seventh Street in St. Paul, was three generations of the Erickson clan. Erickson was accompanied by Becky, daughters Caldwell and Scodellaro, son-in-law David Scodellaro and granddaughter Kate Scodellaro. 

Erickson walked by tall mirrored glass, chuckling at the memories of the moments he’d see sitting on the other side of it at his desk. As he walked into the main entrance through the hall to his old office, he pointed and commented on how things had changed. 

Pictures of different kinds of Pearson’s candy hang on the walls, and Erickson looked to see what was around when he was there too. 

He spoke fondly of a mint that cost two cents in his day, known as the “Change-maker” — kids would hand over a buck and get back a mint and 98 cents in loose change.

As for the building itself, which has been added to and remodeled, straight away Erickson noticed the full walls, which were previously only halfs. “You could stand up and see the whole office,” he said.

There was also the matter of changing tastes over the decades — people eat different candy and eat candy differently now. One candy bar that’s no longer made was called the “Seven Up,” which included seven flavors in the same bar — mint and fudge and more — and was manufactured on Pearson’s factory lines by hand. 

Though it was primarily for Erickson, Pearson’s CEO Keller gave a tour full of candy and St. Paul history, old pictures and the Willy Wonka-like wonder of a stroll through a candy factory the entire family enjoyed.

 

‘Job Switching’ 

Keller lead the way onto the candy factory floor after outfitting the family with smocks. 

Erickson and Keller had spirited talks about advancements in candy making, as well as accounting items like the price of different nuts or cornstarch over the decades. 

People were working in the bustling factory, checking individual candies for defects or preparing the perfect gooey center for a soon-to-be assembled confection. 

“It’s like ‘I Love Lucy,’” said Becky. 

Some of the factory workers stopped to shake Erickson’s hand and ask about the factory back in his day. He wondered if anyone was still around from the late 70s. 

No one could be found from that time, but one of the current accountants was able to rustle up accounting logs from back then. Erickson recognized them right away, saying he likely signed the book. The group, now out of the factory and wrapping up the tour in a conference room, opened up the log and found his decades-old signature. 

After checking to make sure the records didn’t include any sensitive information, Keller topped off the sweet morning by gifting Erickson the log. 

 

– Solomon Gustavo can be reached at sgustavo@lillienews.com or 651-748-7815

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