I first discovered Shotwell Candy Co. when Box South was founded in January, 2014. I had always been ambivalent towards caramels; to me they were always stogy, dilapidated relics of a by-gone South that predated my birth. I remembered my great-grandmother, the clichéd Southern Belle, having an insulin-spiking, pancreas-destroying combination or Werther’s Originals and drug-store butter mints in a ceramic bowl, flanked by flaccid, random Christmas candy. In my mind, caramels tasted of awkward family gatherings, funerals of long-forgotten great-uncles, and pre-holiday gatherings.
Well, I’m here to tell you that I was wrong – damned wrong, in fact, as Shotwell ‘s taste nothing like my adult therapy sessions. Sure, the gist is the same – caramelized sugar, melted butter, 2nd degree hand burns – but what Shotwell perfects is not only technique, but flavor profile. They make gourmet rifts on your classic caramels, infusing Chinese five spice or pretzels and local craft beer into a singular, artisan experience.
Shotwell Candy Co. was founded in December, 2012 by Jerrod and Lisa Smith, denizens of Memphis, Tennessee. Jerrod’s grandparents owned a general goods store in Aliceville, Kansas – a place that defines “fly-over country” – where his grandfather made confections using classic, old-school recipes. Jerrod used to pull a Charles Dickens’ on the candy counter, but Grandpa Shot never seemed to mind – and 30 years later, his grandson is both a practicing lawyer and premium confections maker.
Using Grandpa Shot’s caramel recipe, Jerrod and Lisa began creating their own modernist twist on the classic candy. The caramels are obviously hand-made: The slightly imprecise cut; the hand-wrapped wax paper; the rustic, utilitarian boxes let you know that each caramel was truly made by a person, not an automated machination. But what’s truly unique, beyond the almost-passé “artisan” moniker, is the fact that Shotwell attempts to surpass the standard “Southern” palate- something that can be a massive hurdle for any business. As stated earlier, their use of chocolate and Chinese five spice – a combination of clove, cinnamon, star anise, Sichuan pepper, and fennel seed – is not a only interesting, but exceptionally provocative. As is their “Old Fashioned,” a combination of Maker’s Mark, orange, and bitters, a rift on the post-Colonial, high society cocktail.
If nothing else, Shotwell deserves your respect (and business) for understanding that “Southern” is no longer a pejorative – it’s a celebration in both past and future tense, understanding that great things remain constant while forever evolving.
For more information about Shotwell Candy Co., please visit their website at http://www.shotwellcandy.com