Greetings Candy Fans!

Enjoy Daylight Savings Time with our extended hours (12-8:30 PM) on Friday & Saturday!

In March's Candyland blog entry, Shaws Candy owner Diana Zogaric addresses the rumors that began swirling after West Portal's 96-year-old movie theater officially faded to black. Here's an excerpt:

If you had arrived in West Portal in the grip of the Great Depression, when legions of the newly dispossessed were pouring into California in Grapes-of-Wrath caravans, you might have had difficulty reconciling the economic times with the streetscape.

With much of the city grappling with breadlines, West Portal Avenue on either side of Vincente Street was dressed for a night on the town, with a snappy theater that opened in 1925 and a dandy new candy store that opened its doors in 1931, two years after the stock market crash that tilted the world on its axis.

What was Douglas Shaw thinking? Did people want penny candy when they hadn't had a square meal in weeks? As silent pictures gave way to talkies, would the turnstiles of the Empire continue to spin as unemployment rates soared and the dark clouds of another world war amassed on the horizon?

Two globally historic events occurring 5,000 miles apart in the middle of the 19th Century -- the California Gold Rush and the Irish Potato Famine -- funneled masses of Irish emigrants to San Francisco. In 1867, Frank McCoppin became the city's first Irish-born mayor. By 1880, one-third of San Francisco's population was of Irish descent.
Camille (left) and Gabby show off two Michael's Chocolates products sold at Shaws: Almond Dragees and Hazelnut Caramel Latte Dragees.
In 2015, Michael Benner was swept off his feet for the better part of a year by a foot injury.

Consumed by wanderlust during his slow recovery, he one day talked his husband, Curtis, into a therapeutic walk. Without forethought, Michael blurted out a vague vision: "In my next life, I want do something with chocolate."

A few months later at Christmas, Curtis gifted his partner with a pair of books on the subject. Michael consumed them, as well as the litany of videos, blogs, articles, social media posts, cooking shows, trade shows and confectionery festivals that followed.

Although he was grateful for the benefits that saw him through his prolonged recovery and was eager to return to the workaday world, Michael wasn't exactly counting down the days to his return to a career that kept him on his feet all day pairing obscenely priced wines with obscenely wealthy humans.

Encouraged by Curtis, Michael reconnected with the culinary creativity that first attracted him to the Bay Area from his hometown of Redondo Beach (where he and Shaws Candy owner Diana Zogaric, then a resident of Manhattan Beach, were unbeknownst neighbors).

"Chocolate was my mid-life crisis," Michael admitted. "Turns out I was pretty good at it."

The several years of entrepreneurial alchemy that followed started in his own kitchen and expanded to a shared chef's kitchen in South San Francisco, a humble 12-square-foot beachhead from which he launched Michael's Chocolates.

While there was no shortage of Willy Wonka wannabees in the aftermath of the tech-driven gentrification of San Francisco and points beyond, Michael's Chocolates began collecting festival medals up and down the West Coast on the strength of a niche talent by its proprietor: "Painting" bonbons.

During the labor-intensive process, high-end chocolate is molded in a highly polished polycarbonate shell, then literally painted to a sheen with color-infused cocoa butter. Michael was a quick study and soon was on the fast track to master craftsman status.

"Understanding chocolate and confections is one thing, but understanding colors and cocoa butter is a different ball of wax," he said of his acumen for chocolate painting. "If I've done my job, you can see your reflection, like a little mirror."

It was his signature creation, the Lemon Burst Bonbon, that drew the attention of the future Shaws proprietor a year ago at a chocolate convention at the Palace of Fine Arts. Diana grabbed Michael's card that day, but it sat idle when the pandemic and then an extended demolition and rebuild of the 90-year-old West Portal property delayed the opening of Shaws Candy until January 18, 2021.

"I went to the convention with the intention of selling some good, high-end chocolates and he really stood out to me," Diana said of Michael. "So I started following him on Instagram, and by the time I was ready I was sure that he was someone I wanted to have a business relationship with."
One Instagram follower described Michael's Chocolates' Lemon Burst Bonbons as having "such a brilliant shine that you could slap a '9' on it and rack it up on a pool table."
You must be signed up for our monthly newsletter before noon on March 1.

One answer per person.

Winner must pick up gift card in person at Shaws and agree to a picture for publicity purposes.

Card is good for in-store purchases only.


Two Bay Area cities are rooted in Irish culture. One is Dublin, named for the Irish capital. The other takes its name from an 18th-Century Irish bishop. What's the name of the city?

To enter, click the link below and enter this information on the SUBJECT LINE:

1) Your name; followed by 2) your city of residence in parenthesis; followed by 3) a hyphen and your answer.

For example:

Julie Smith (San Francisco, CA) - Alameda

4) Then enter your daytime phone number within the body of the email.

Entries that do not follow this format will be disqualified. We will not use phone numbers for any purpose other than to inform the winner. "Alameda" is used for example purposes and is not the correct answer.

Entries must be submitted by 10 a.m. Friday, March 5.

All correct answers will be entered in a drawing to be conducted live on Shaws Candy's Facebook page at 11:30 AM on Friday, March 5.

122 West Portal Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94127

Store Hours
Sunday-Thursday: Noon - 7 PM
Friday & Saturday: Noon-8:30 PM

(415) 683-5626