Annabelle's is one of a dwindling number of independent candy companies in the United States. It is based in Hayward, California, a suburb of Oakland, but its candy is distributed across much of the West Coast.

The company was founded way back in 1950 and was named after founder Sam Altshuler's daughter Annabelle. They started out in San Francisco, producing only the Rocky Road bar. The Rocky Road is a squishy affair. It thumbs its nose at all those stiff bars made of nougat or fake honeycomb or even cookies. The Rocky Road doesn't need any of that edible rebar! It is just flaky, crumbly chocolate around a bar of fluffy marshmallow, with a few nuts floating peacefully within.

Its quirky sweetness took off, and nowadays it has been joined by two siblings and a host of other family members. There's the dark chocolate Rocky Road, and the Rocky Road with mint marshmallow. The Abba-Zaba, which is a strip of taffy with peanut butter filling, and the Big Hunk, vanilla taffy with whole roasted peanuts. The U-No bar, a whipped chocolate-and-almond affair, and the Look!, which is like a chocolate-covered Big Hunk. And, of course, the new Sour Apple Abba-Zaba.

Why hasn't Annabelle's been swallowed up yet, when many small companies have been bought up by the Big Evil or simply gone under? It may be that their candies are too unusual to interest the big companies. They don't face direct competition, either: stores and customers can't easily gloss over the Rocky Road in favor of a more widely produced version. And their location might help: many of the struggling companies are on the Midwest and East Coast, while the Rockies (perhaps in defense of their namesake bar) seem to shelter the West Coast community from many larger trends.

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