BUTTE – A lot of things have changed in Butte in the past six decades, but one sweet thing has not.
Shepperd’s Candy has been making life a little sweeter in Butte the same way since 1954.
Bruce Shepperd started making candy in Butte at several locations at the turn of the 20th century, before settling in the current location on Harrison Ave in the 1950s.
If you’d walked into the shop in 1954, it wouldn’t have looked much different than it does today – and the candy wouldn’t taste any different.
“Dad Shepperd always said you never want to toy with the quality of the product,” said Ron Gallardo, co-owner of Shepperd’s Candy. “So for us, it’s just been a time-honored tradition that those are the recipes and the formulas and the techniques that follow because a formula is good. You toy with the technique and you will get something different, especially when it comes to something like candy.”
Bruce Shepperd passed on his knowledge and ultimately the business to his son, Bruce Jr.
Gallardo began working for Bruce Jr. as a teenager and is now part-owner with Bruce’s daughter.
“I started working here as a freshman in high school on and off through college,” said Gallardo. “I still worked here and I personally loved the craft, the art, the artistry that goes into it.”
Watching Gallardo work is an art. The recipes haven’t changed and neither has the equipment, whether it’s the copper pots or the marble tables.
More than six decades ago, Bruce Sr. bought the tools of the trade that more than likely a century old. Those tools are still used today to turn sugar and nuts into a delicious treat.
But even with the hard work, Gallardo remains a kid in a candy store.
“Christmas time I’m stirring the stoves go on, Dave will come in and help out and we’ll have both stoves going, you know 14 hour days, whatever to keep up with it,” said Gallardo. “You do get tired by Christmas but you know all year round it’s something that’s just enjoyable.”
“It’s a lifestyle, it’s not a job.”
Gallardo’s wife and son also work at Shepperd’s Candy, helping keep that family approach first started by Bruce Shepperd Senior alive and well 64 years after he sold his first piece of candy.
Story by Chet Layman, MTN News