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Tuesday, September 24, 2013


Retail staff of Downtown San Diego's Showley Bros. Candy Factory, circa late 1920s.
SWEET LIFE--To celebrate the preservation of an early 20th century film about candy making in San Diego, the San Diego History Center will host a film screening and chocolate tasting THIS Thursday, September 26, from 6 to 8 p. m. at the History Center  in Balboa Park’s Casa de Balboa. The fun-filled and unique evening of history, film, music, wine, and sweets open to the public and tickets are available at $15 for members and $20 for non-members.
Original candy factory has been preserved
            The 22-minute black-and-white silent movie was produced in the late 1920s by the Showley Bros. Candy Factory to demonstrate candy making at the company’s brick headquarters that still stands in downtown’s East Village.
The History Center received a grant from the National Film Preservation Foundation (NFPF) to digitally remaster the film, which the Showley family had donated to the History Center’s archives.  Scenes include production of jelly beans, marshmallow dolls, hand-dipped chocolate and the company’s signature product, the “5-cent Cluster Ruff” candy bar.
            San Diego Culinary Institute students will compete to recreate The Cluster Ruff. The ingredients were detailed in original candy maker cookbooks, but the instructions were missing. So the students accepted the challenge to produce the candy bar for the first time in more than 60 years, drawing on descriptions by those who recall it.  Talented local candy makers, Biscuit Gourmet Biscotti, Sea Salt Candy, and So Rich Chocolates, will also bring their own sweet creations to sample.
            Event attendees have the option to participate in accompanying the silent film with musical instruments provided by, and at the direction of, Scott Paulson of the UC San Diego Library and his The Teeny-Tiny Pit Orchestra.
            “We were honored to receive the NFPF grant to remaster the Showley film,” said Chris Travers, SDHC’s Director of the Photograph Collection. “The Showley Bros. Candy Factory was a long-time San Diego business which many San Diegans today still remember. Now we can preserve its story forever, and we love to share that with the public.”
Showley Bros. Candy Factory Delivers!
Note to eagle eye historians what street is this?
            “My grandfather and his brothers were very proud of their business,” said Roger Showley, grandson of the founders, author, and long-time U-T San Diego staff writer. “They were early adopters in the new medium of film to promote their organization, which was quite modern for those days.” 
In 1924, the original factory—located in Germania Hall at 625 8th Avenue in downtown San Diego—was destroyed in a fire. The brothers rebuilt a new factory at 8th Avenue and K Street within a few months. The business was closed in 1951, and the building was sold in 1960. It later became an artist’s live-work apartment building and in 2003 was relocated 280 feet eastward to make way for Petco Park’s “Park at the Park.” It was then restored and is expected to be leased for commercial uses.
            San Diego History Center will showcase a small exhibition, titled A Sweet Life, of photos and objects from the Showley family archives from Sept. 10 – Nov. 17.

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