The Confectionery Business in San Francisco - 1906
Although San Francisco has always been a very prominent city in the eyes of the world, few are aware that previous to the earthquake it would have compared favorably with any modern city, regardless of size, and in many particulars excelling all of them.
With a harbor, conceded by many to be without a peer; beautiful parks, the largest of which it is perhaps impossible to find an equal; wide, well-kept streets; the finest bathing establishment ever constructed; modern buildings and a streetcar service superior in every way to any in the large eastern cities, it was for its size all in all the foremost city of present times.
Incredible as it may seem, San Francisco possessed the most beautiful and most expensively furnished candy store ever built, and the cafes of Vienna, Paris, and Milan could not compare in luxury, expensiveness, and splendor with their American counterpart.
The only store that could approach Haas's store in any way was Gunther's in Chicago, which is usually considered the most magnificent establishment of its kind in the eastern or middle states.
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Having been an almost invariably prosperous city, San Francisco was naturally an unusually profitable field for the confectionery trade, with the result that it possessed many fine establishments.
Over time, the great volume of business was handled by a few confectioners and, although a properly conducted business could be made very profitable, nevertheless, it was almost impossible to break into the ranks of the few who had in a measure concentrated the best trade.
After the fire had completed the devastation of the earthquake, the prominent confectioners were out of the field altogether, and what was the unmaking of many was the making of a few who had hitherto been unknown.
The result is that opportunities are now equal to all, and in the course of a few years we shall undoubtedly find new names in the front rank of San Francisco confectioners.
As a whole, the goods turned out by San Francisco confectioners are remarkably good, and, considering the selling price, are superior to those in the east.
On the other hand, the ice cream, as a rule, is a little below eastern standard, and one coming to San Francisco after having lived in one of the eastern cities misses the quality there found in an ice cream soda.
Strange, or inconsistent as it may seem, the confectioners here to a great extent depend almost entirely upon the east for their supplies such as fruits, syrups, etc., whereas their own state, California, is one of the greatest fruits producing sections in the world. It is probable that it will be only a matter of time when these conditions are changed, with even the possibility of California in time supplying the east.
Even though conditions are now fairly settled, the great difficulty that the confectioners have to contend with is in getting goods from jobbers. In every line, the demand is so great that it seems impossible to obtain sufficient to answer requirements.
Considering the great exodus of people after the fire, it is beautiful how many candy stores, cafes, and confectioneries are doing business here, and all seemingly have as much as they wish to handle. It is not unusual for a bakery to start in business and in a short time add an annex of two or three times the original size, in order to handle increased trade.
What may be considered the most significant obstacle at present is the scarcity of help, and although San Francisco is now no place for idlers, a good workman is now, in many cases, making as much as his employer formerly did with both his capital and labor.
One does not have to predict San Francisco's unbounded prosperity for years to come for the simple reason that it is so apparent that one could believe nothing else.
“The Confectionery Business in San Francisco” in Confectioners’ and Bakers’ Gazette, Vol. XXVIII, No. 303 10 December 1906, p. 28.