Josh Plumb, co-owner of Garden Gate Candy, said he isn’t sure where the recipe for the shop’s signature toffee came from.
His grandparents who started the business, Cornelius “Corky” Vanderlinden and Helen Vanderlinden, may have developed it, Plumb said, but the formula’s origins are a mystery.
Wherever the recipe came from, the Salt Lake City candy shop’s toffee has been made that way since the store opened in the 1940s, Plumb said. The Vanderlindens started their business as an ice cream shop in 1942, but when rationing as a result of World War II made it difficult to get the necessary ingredients for ice cream, they switched to making chocolate.
Today, Garden Gate Candy, located at 928 E. 900 South in Salt Lake City’s 9th and 9th neighborhood, is still making chocolate, but for only part of the year.
Garden Gate Candy opened for business on Nov. 1, and will remain open through about Dec. 23, Plumb said. Once it starts to feel like summer, the business transforms into Cloud Ninth Creamery, an ice cream shop that’s open from about May through September. Both businesses are owned by Plumb and his mom, Connie Plumb.
You can still get ice cream during the offseason, though. Between the end of December through spring, when both storefronts are closed, Cloud Ninth is still selling its ice cream to such local restaurants as Doki Doki, Ruth’s Diner and others.
Helen Vanderlinden died in February at age 98, and her husband, Cornelius, died in 2009. This is the first year that Josh and Connie Plumb are running the business together, but they’ve always been a part of it, Josh Plumb said. He has been working at the shop since he was about 14.
“Grandkids have always been ‘cookers,’” Plumb said. As a kid, he would stay busy in the kitchen making toffee, melting chocolate and doing other candy-making tasks.
Making candy ‘like crazy’
Plumb and his mom start making candy every year around the end of October, he said. They “just make it like crazy” until about Dec. 15, then they sell the remainder of their stock through the holiday season.
Together, the Plumbs make more than 30,000 pounds of candy every year, Josh Plumb said. They have workers who help with all the chocolate dipping, but “no one outside of the family” touches the candy before it gets to that stage, he said.
Their toffee is their most popular and well-known item, Plumb said. Garden Gate Candy also makes caramels and a variety of nut clusters, he said, along with chocolate-covered cinnamon bears, pretzels, marshmallows and peppermint sandwich cookies.
Plumb said he and Connie get all the chocolate-covered items done first every year, so they can “focus on the toffee.”
It’s hard to say how well business has been so far this year, because of construction that’s been going on just outside the store, Plumb said. However, he said, it seems like business has been on track since last year.
“We’ll just have to see,” he said. “But 9th South being under construction and closed and a nightmare for the last four months hasn’t helped.”
Now open for the season, Garden Gate Candy should start to see business ramp up, said Plumb, who added that they always get busier just after Thanksgiving.
Remember, once the chocolate disappears, just wait: Ice cream will be coming next.