Class of 2011
Samuel Altshuler was born in Belarus, Russia, September 10, 1898, to Solomon and Hannah and had eight siblings.
In 1917, in the middle of the Russian Revolution, Sam 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 St., 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 Annabelle Candy Co., after his daughter.
The first successful item 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, CA. and through the 1970s Annabelle purchased Golden Nugget Candy Co., adding the Big Hunk and Look candy bars to the company’s lineup.
Sam passed away in 1971, but his daughter Annabelle and grandchildren, Susie and Gary, continue to run the company.