Mary See is more than just the iconic face on a box of See’s Candies! Born Mary Wiseman in Ontario, Canada in 1854, she married Alexander See at age 20. They had three children—Charles, May and Bertha—and ran a hotel together on Tremont Park Island. While helping to run the hotel, Mary developed her own homemade candy recipes. After Mary’s husband passed away in 1919, her son Charles suggested that she move to sunny California with him and his wife. There, Charles planned to start his own candy company, selling sweets made from his mother’s recipes.
They settled in Pasadena, CA in a post-Victorian bungalow. Mary made candy in the bungalow’s black-and-white kitchen. When Charles opened the first See’s Candies shop in Los Angeles, he chose the now-iconic checkerboard theme inspired by this kitchen.
Mary took pride in her homemade candy, using only the finest and freshest ingredients—a tradition continued by See’s to this day. In fact, some of our candies are still made using Mary’s very own original recipes, including Peanut Brittle, Victoria Toffee and Chocolate Walnut Fudge.
See’s Candies was first whipped up as the dream of Charles A. See, a hardworking Toronto sales representative for Merckens chocolate manufacturer. While working long hours selling candy ingredients to bakeries and shops in the cold Canadian winter, he dreamed of the day he would finally own his own chain of candy shops and move with his family to warm, sunny California.
Guided by the values his mother Mary had instilled in him, and using her candy recipes as the cornerstone of his business, Charles founded See’s Candies in Los Angeles in 1921. His vision came to life with that first See’s shop, a place where employees were treated like family and customers were warmly greeted with a free sample. Only the finest and freshest ingredients were accepted in their candy kitchen, causing suppliers to coin the phrase “See’s quality”—higher than “top quality.”
Thanks to Charles’ passion and intelligence, See’s not only survived the Great Depression and World War II, it thrived and continued to grow as a company. His innovative bulk-rate candy buying program kept See’s afloat through those difficult years, and the concept lives on in our Quantity Discount program.
Charles grew his company from that first shop in L.A. to 78 shops across California, never compromising on the quality or deliciousness of See’s Candies. When he passed away in 1949 due to a heart ailment, his son, Laurance A. See succeeded him as President. But Charles’ legacy lives on, and his motto, “Quality Without Compromise®,” continues to guide the company.