Chocolate company resurrected
Company sets up in Sockburn after 20 yearsMICHAEL BERRY
Resurrecting an iconic Kiwi chocolate company after more than 20 years' closure was no mean feat.
How do you get the chocolates to taste the same?
You chase down the long-retired factory manager and as many other employees and customers of Queen Anne Chocolates as possible.
That's what Sarah Adams, granddaughter of Ernest Adams, founder of the eponymous baked goods company, and Queen Anne chocolatier, did in the late 1990s.
Early on, the South Island baking company was spun off to become Ernest Adams, while Adams Bruce ran the North Island bakery and the nationwide Queen Anne chocolate company.
In its 1960s heyday, there were about 100 Queen Anne shops around New Zealand, and the brand remains strong in the minds of older Kiwis.
Queen Anne was closed in 1976, after Ernest Adams bought Adams Bruce for its bakery business in 1974.
Sarah Adams left the Ernest Adams business soon after the family link was broken in 1996, and while researching her grandfather for a biographic story she found a lot of nostalgia for the nougat and other sweet Queen Anne treats among the people she spoke to.
She also met the former manager of the Wellington chocolate factory, the late Vic Kent. Kent helped explain the process and ate many chocolates while Adams tried to perfect the recipes to taste just as they used to.
"He was the one who knew everything, and his memory was amazing," she said.
Former employees from around New Zealand gave her bits of information that she managed to piece together to restore the chocolates, she said.
Adams has managed to fulfil her long-standing goal to move production of the chocolates from an Auckland factory to Christchurch.
She had barely set up the factory in Sockburn when the September 2010 quake hit the city. The first batches started coming off the line a few weeks before the February 22 quake. The factory building housing the company was undamaged by the shakes.
The company employs five staff and is small enough to make interesting things to order and to experiment, while large enough to supply many customers, Adams said.
"We're small enough to do special things and there's still a lot of handwork, but we're big enough to make chocolates for New Zealand and the world."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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