Frank Crail had a dream¬ to raise a family in a quiet, small town environment. Not having a plan to support his dream in Durango, Colorado, the quaint Victorian-era town in which they had chosen to settle, he began surveying the town’s local residents and merchants. “It came down to either a car wash or a chocolate shop,” recalls the father of seven. “I think I made the right choice.” Today, a shop still stands on Main Street, with its sights and smells tempting tourists and locals alike to experience a cornucopia of chocolaty treats before a breath-taking ride on the scenic Durango-Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad or after a half-day white water rafting trip through town. Twenty one years later, from that tiny shop downtown emerged the need for a 53,000 square foot factory located on the town’s outskirts, built to supply hundreds of franchised stores throughout the United States and the world.
Quality Products, Quality People
“The number one factor is the quality of the product,” says President and CEO Crail. As a testament, Crail proudly points to a page from Money magazine mounted on his office wall which features Rocky Mountain Chocolate winning the coveted 3-heart rating in a blind taste test. The candy maker’s chocolate beat out See’s Candies, Perugina, Teuscher, Godiva and Fanny May for the “richest chocolate, with intense natural flavor.”
Another trademark is the unusually large portions of chocolate on display. “This was a fortunate mistake,” Crail recalls. “In the early days, my partners and I did not know how to make chocolate and had to learn on a ping pong table. From the start we made the candy centers too big, not compensating for the added size and weight when coating the pieces in chocolate. And if they didn’t look quite right we would dip them again.” The mountain-sized pieces instantly caught on and have remained the Rocky Mountain trademark ever since.
Best of all are the classic treats at Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory – many that haven’t been seen by adults since childhood. Besides the delightful caramel-covered apples (over 30 varieties!), fudge is made fresh daily using traditional methods. A marble slab pulls the heat out of the favorite confection while the cook shapes it with paddles into a giant 22-pound “loaf”. A variety of fruits, nuts, pretzels and cookies are also dipped by hand in pots of melted milk, dark and white chocolate.
Fine chocolates, such as the Company’s signature piece, the Bear™, a paw-sized concoction of chewy caramel, roasted nuts and a heavy coating of chocolate, are shipped fresh on one of the Company’s many refrigerated trucks. Other favorites include nut clusters, butter creams, exotic flavored truffles, toffee and a king-sized peanut butter cup appropriately dubbed the “Bucket™”. Recently, the Company developed a new line of sugar-free and no-sugar-added candies. Results have been “spectacular”, filling a need for those with special dietary requirements.
Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory shops are a unique blend of the traditional and contemporary. Every cooking area features a hand-forged copper kettle on a gas-fired stove, a massive 500-pound granite marble slab for cooling confections, and a variety of hand utensils, reinforcing the quality and freshness of the products.
“A great deal has happened over the years,” recounts Crail with a twinkle in his eye. “I never imagined that in my search for a place to raise a family things would turn out so sweet!”
Copyright RMCF, INC. 2003