*This article includes mentions of merchants who are partners of DoorDash, and DoorDash may receive a commission if you choose to make a purchase from these merchants.
While San Francisco weather in October is anything but predictable, the City by the Bay has one Halloween guarantee: The trick-or-treating loot will be very good. In my years making the rounds as a child (and now a parent), I’ve seen residents offer individually wrapped candy necklaces and rings, full-size candy bars, and even brand new stuffed animals. But my all-time favorite trick-or-treating prize is and will always be the See’s Lollypop.
Most native San Franciscans are in a lifelong love affair with See’s Candies. Though the national chain was founded in Los Angeles in 1921, it proliferated in our city by the 1930s. Those of us who grew up here were practically born knowing that anytime you step into one of the many classic black-and-white-checkered shops around town, you’re guaranteed a free full-size sample. It’s trick-or-treating year-round, not to mention an apex marketing maneuver.
But many of See’s obsession-worthy treats have been offered unwrapped, making them unsavory for Halloween’s random-hands-in-the-candy-bowl scenario. Not so for its lollipops. As long as I’ve known about them, See’s Lollypops have always been individually wrapped and thus ready for bare-handed, sticky-fingered grabbing. They’re also everything I could wish for in a candy.
Let’s start with the fact that these block-shaped treats — made with real butter, heavy cream, and other quality ingredients — come in a variety of flavors, last a seriously long time, and are a mere 90 calories each. Given the amount of time, effort, and enjoyment it takes to get from the first lick to the final chewy, teeth-sticking glob, these lollipops rank at the very top of my list of worth-it indulgences.
Or more specifically, the chocolate flavor does. Matte dark brown with deep, rich flavor; judicious sweetness; and a slightly chalky texture, it’s a treat that actually quells my insatiable chocolate cravings. See’s uses San Francisco’s historic Guittard chocolate for all their chocolate confections, and if you’ve tried Guittard, you know it’s the bomb.
Still, on occasion, I switch it up. With buttery, brown-sugar character, the unabashedly sweet and perky butterscotch lolly is confectionery sunshine on a stick. The slightly darker and cooler-toned café latté — flavored with Colombian coffee and less in-your-face sweet than butterscotch — is a more heady seducer.
The only regular flavor I always pass on is the vanilla. Antique white in color and made with real vanilla, it has a sweet rice-crispy-like, buttery vanilla flavor that just isn’t my jam. But that’s a blessing — vanilla is my daughter’s favorite. Whenever we get a box of See’s Lollypops, we don’t have to fight over them…as much.
Speaking of the assortment box, most See’s loyalists know that buying by the box — or 30 at a time of any flavor — is the way to go. It’s cheaper than purchasing them by the piece. Plus, it’s an excuse to load up and display a candy bowl filled with a variety of See’s Lollypops, which I do on the regular. If there’s a more hospitable, joyous gesture for a living room side table — or a trick-or-treating bowl — I haven’t seen it.
Even better, this year, the 100-plus-year-old confectioner just added color coding to their hard-to-read lollipop wrappers: Genius! Finally! Now little ninjas, mermaids, and aliens as well as your houseguests won’t need to squint to read the tiny black font to know which flavor they’re pawing. Just tell them the bright gold wrapper indicates butterscotch, the dark brown is chocolate, the antique white is vanilla, the coppery brown is coffee — and they’re all fantastic.
Photographer: Paul Quitoriano
Art Direction: Sarah Ceniceros