Q: When did America's best chocolate move all of its operations to Illinois? My favorite, Scharffen Berger, started out in the Bay Area of San Francisco. But it no longer is made in California, only in Robinson, Ill. Can you tour the Robinson plant? Is there an outlet store? Why Robinson?
--Margaret Engel, Bethesda, Md.
A: The Hershey Co. purchased Scharffen Berger back in 2005. The chocolate giant announced it was closing Scharffen Berger's plant in West Berkley, Calif., back in January 2009. At that time, the San Francisco Chronicle reported a "majority" of Scharffen Berger products were already being made at Hershey's production facilities in Robinson, Ill.
Why the move? "We were outgrowing that space,'' said Anna Lingeris, Hershey's public relations manager. She said the same chocolate, same equipment and same methods used in California are being used in Illinois. And, no, there's no outlet store in Robinson.
Scharffen Berger maintains a presence in San Francisco with an on-line store (visit via scharffenberger.com) and a retail shop in the landmark Ferry Building at the foot of Market Street. You can also get some Scharffen Berger products at Hershey stores in Chicago and New York City and the company's corporate visitor center, Hershey's Chocolate World in Hershey, Pa.
Here's a fun fact I learned checking out your question. Robinson is located in downstate Illinois near the Indiana border. It is home not only to the late writer James Jones, author of "From Here to Eternity," but home to the Heath bar. Hershey's has made the Heath bar since 1996. The Robinson plant also produces PayDay, Whoppers and Milk Duds candies.