Emmert Brooks

Class of 2022

The legacy of Paul Adams and Emmert Brooks, founders of Adams & Brooks, Inc., was born from two friends who, when faced with a challenge, turned to their fascination with candy making and an entrepreneurial spirit.

Emmert Fenger Brooks was the son of Dr. Alfred L. Brooks and Caldona Young, the middle child with an older sister Lucille and a younger sister Jane. He grew up in Audubon, Iowa.

While Emmert was growing up in Iowa, Paul Adams spent his early life in Cincinnati, where he was impressed as a young man by the quality presentation of old-world chocolate craftsmanship displayed in candy store windows.

Paul has been described as a wonderful person with a brilliant mind and a remarkable memory. Well read, a whiz at math and a solid friend, he was a good judge of character and his word was his bond.

Emmert met his wife Corrinne after college when they both began teaching at the same school in Audubon. But Corrinne began taking successive teaching jobs and finally ending up in California in 1927. Emmert’s father passed away that same year and with nothing keeping him in Iowa he decided to follow Corrine to California.

It was on this trip, along a road in South Dakota, that Emmert picked up a hitchhiker and a lifelong friendship and partnership began. The hitchhiker’s name was Paul Adams.

When Emmert arrived in California he found a job at Bach Aircraft. He and Corrine were married on June 23, 1929, and had one son, John, who was inducted into the Candy Hall of Fame in 2008. During the next few years, Emmert kept in touch with Paul, who had various jobs and regularly traveled back to Cincinnati to visit his family.

In early 1932, Bach’s Santa Monica factory was destroyed by fire and Emmert was out of work. Around this time, Paul had returned from a trip to Cincinnati with a recipe for caramel corn. With the country still in the middle of the depression, Paul and Emmert formed a plan to open a store. They would make caramel corn in the window and sell it to people passing by on the street.

In hindsight, their next decision was perhaps their most important. They chose a location in the heart of Los Angeles, across Pershing Square from the Biltmore Hotel and around the corner from the new Paramount theater. It wasn’t long before the two discovered they could sell caramel corn to the crowds standing outside the theaters waiting to buy tickets and began seeking out other venues where people were gathering.

In the 1940s, after the war, the Los Angeles County Fair reopened and became the largest County Fair in the country with crowds reaching 160,000 in a single day. During this time, Adams & Brooks had 13 locations at the fair selling attendees its P-Nuttles Butter Toffee Nuts.

As new attractions continued to call Southern California home, Paul and Emmert made sure they were there selling confections. This included the opening of Disneyland in 1955 where they operated a company store.

Emmert passed away in 1975 and Paul died in 1987. They spent more than 45 years in the industry, pioneering confectionery sales in entertainment venues and leaving behind a company that is still family-owned today.