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Lee's Candies. - TRESSA MAE
  • Tressa Mae
  • Lee's Candies.

BOISE BENCH

Lee's Candies originally opened downtown next to where McU Sports is now, in 1947. In 1972, it moved up to the Vista Village. Owner Curtis Nokleby has been with it since the beginning, when his dad opened the shop almost 70 years ago.

Nokleby has watched the business change as Boise has grown and population has shifted. Once the mall was built, all the big-name stores beside him moved away, taking the foot traffic with it. The candy industry has changed, but the shop's brightly lit crown sign and the way Lee's make its chocolates have stayed the same.

"I'm the one that makes every single piece of chocolate in here," Nokleby said. Every morning, he hand-rolls the centers of each chocolate and hands them off to his chocolate dipper, who has been with the business for over 40 years.

Nokleby said other candy companies "are all automated, with big machinery. They don't handcraft their chocolates like I do."

The ingredients used in his chocolates is a point of pride for Nokleby. He said he uses the very finest chocolate, but he said he has also watched chocolate prices go "out of sight" in the last few years. He's convinced his customers can taste the difference and, he relies on mostly repeat business—especially the samples of curry coconut cashews and dollops of chocolate-covered sea salt caramels.

The hours are long, and crafting such artful chocolates its hard work.

"It's destroyed my body," Nokleby said. As far as who will take over the little candy shop someday, Nokleby said all five of his kids are chasing dreams of their own.

"I don't know exactly what's going to happen," he said. "I'll probably just fall and die in the kettle."

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