Coronavirus forces See’s Candies to suspend production for first time since World War II

A gloved worker works with boxes of chocolates.
The first See’s store was opened in L.A. in 1921 by three members of an immigrant family.
(Bryan Chan / Los Angeles Times)

See’s Candies, a California chocolate institution, is suspending production because of the coronavirus.

It’s only the second time in See’s 99-year history that production has been interrupted, the first being when it was halted due to rationing during World War II.

“Given the current events with COVID-19, and our concern for the health and safety of our employees, we have made the decision to initiate an interruption once again,” the South San Francisco company said in a statement. “We will work to keep you updated as we develop plans to safely resume operations.”

The first See’s store opened in Los Angeles in 1921 by a trio of Canadian immigrants: Charles See; his wife, Florence; and his mother, Mary. That grandmotherly face on See’s trademark black-and-white boxes belongs to Mary See, and her recipes were the foundation of the operation.


In 2017, See’s Candies was expecting to sell between $400 million and $450 million of candy, and had 1,500 employees, with more workers added during the winter holidays.