Haigh’s makes the best candy in Australia. Without fail, Ruth & I used to bring their chocolate covered hazelnuts back home for a dear friend every time we went to Australia. Don has since died. This time Ruth brought lots of Haigh’s candy home for herself and others because we took a tour of its candy-making facility in Adelaide and she couldn’t resist.
We naively showed up for a tour on Saturday morning, and all of them were booked long in advance. The crowd was phenomenal. Luckily, the woman giving tours that day, Katharine, graciously agreed to give us a brief, personal spin in a factory with an unforgettable aroma. My first question to her was, which is your favorite? Katharine got misty eyed and said, “Dark Apricot.” Before we proceeded, she went behind the counter and got Ruth and me apricot clusters and we got misty-eyed too. “What’s your best seller?” was my 2nd question. “The milk chocolate speckles are our most popular,’ she replied. Ruth later bought some to take home.
Alfred Haigh, an Aussie with movie-star looks and a wonderful product line, opened the first Haigh’s Chocolate store at 34 King William Street in Adelaide in 1915. The building’s still there. Business boomed but Haigh’s still only has 17 stores. All of them are in Australia in only 4 of its six states. Haigh’s recently opened another store in Melbourne and their first in Canberra. Alfred introduced chocolate covered fruit, like apricots, in 1917 and built a small candy factory behind his family home. It’s now the Visitor Center. Haigh’s flagship store opened in downtown Adelaide 5 years later. Haigh’s is now the oldest family-owned chocolate maker in Australia, and it tends to open high visibility shops in heritage buildings. The 4th generation of Haigh’s now runs the company.
Part of the reason why Haigh’s grows slowly is because it still hand-makes lots of its chocolate delights. Drooling, we watched a woman roll and weigh chocolate infused coconut-cherry clusters. All of Haigh’s chocolate comes from 4 countries–Ecuador, Venezuela, Ghana, and New Guinea. Some of its new machinery helps speed up the process of making just a few products. The new machines come from Germany. The candy that Haigh’s sells is made mostly by hand in this historic Adelaide factory and, according to Katharine, it’s all gently cooled before being shipped.
Below is Haigh’s mascot.