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San Clemente Journal

3 Sisters Toffee, A Grandmother’s Inspiration

Dec 09, 2021 09:09AM ● By Britta Wilder

Leslie Powers of 3 Sisters Toffee.

by Britta Wilder

The holidays are a time of family, friends and making memories. Special traditions are celebrated, including fabulous food and festive treats. What if there was a way to savor the Christmas spirit throughout the year?  A delicious reminder of that joy every season?

Leslie Powers of 3 Sisters Toffee has done just that. 

 


“My grandmother, Lavon Suker, was an amazing cook,” Leslie recalled. “Every Sunday we’d go to her house for dinner, she was incredible!”

Lavon and Harry Suker lived in Buena Park for decades, and Leslie and her two sisters, Stacy and Ashlee, visited them often from their home in Fountain Valley. Harry - a successful businessman with a knack for design-- was the architect of the original mine and log rides on the famous Knott property. Years later when Knotts Berry Farm enclosed its grounds, the Suker’s sold the rides to the amusement park.

It was Lavon who came across a recipe for English toffee in the newspaper one day and decided to tinker with it, refining the formula to perfection. At first she gave the toffee away as Christmas gifts; soon she was teaching her own children, and their children, how to make the delicious treats. 

 

“Toffee is hard to make,” Leslie began, “you have to get the perfect temperature, cook it fast... there are certain ingredients, some have to be cool, and exact amounts of everything.”
Keeping with family tradition, Leslie decided to make a batch for her husband’s business at Christmas in 2009 - not intending to start an empire but to fill a need.

“My husband, Trace, needed corporate gifts for his company - something memorable - so I put together 25 baskets of my toffee with some cute packaging... it was a huge success!”
The feedback literally - was amazing, with clients reaching out and requesting orders of the gourmet treats. Already busy with four children, it wasn’t until after her three oldest graduated from San Clemente High School that Leslie considered making - and takin - her toffee seriously.
“I knew it was a business with plenty of potential,” Leslie said, noting the growth possible just based on the steady requests for product. “At one point my grandfather even took me aside and said, ‘Leslie, you have something here.’ I thought, this is awesome, we should brand it!”
Leslie contacted her sisters - Ashlee in Colorado and Stacy in Utah - and they agreed to give it a commercial try. 

“We called it ‘3 Sisters’ because we are...and we also wanted to honor our grandmother for starting it and giving it to us.”

3 Sisters Toffee officially began with Christmas orders only, featuring their popular milk and dark chocolate toffee, expanding exponentially every season, year by year.

“By 2014, I was making enough out of my own kitchen to get a commercial license,” Leslie said of her Talega home-based operation, followed by a Cottage B food license three years later. 
Armed with crisply packaged 3 Sisters goodies, Leslie approached local shops on Del Mar Avenue and the San Clemente Store at the Outlets to test the market. She passed with flying colors and immediately sold out.

“The people in San Clemente are so loyal, they’re the best!” Leslie enthused. “What’s more, so many customers love to buy from us just because we’re local!”

That loyalty came into play big time in 2020 during the COVID shut down and all of the stores were closed. 

“I had customers call me or they’d order through my website,” Leslie recalled. “Then I would fill their orders and they’d pick up at my door... we got through it.” A sweet way to get through a pandemic, that’s for sure.

With Christmas on its way, Leslie is gearing up for another season of early mornings and long days cooking (she made 1000 pounds of toffee last December), filling orders and keeping shop supplies stocked. Even youngest daughter, Blake, assists in the kitchen when she can. Plus, she still has her husband’s corporate orders to do...“I hire elves if I have to!” Leslie laughed.
It’s all worth it - for customers and for Leslie, too -who enjoys the labor of love and sheer pleasure her product brings to so many.

“Work makes me happy, It truly brings me joy and satisfaction,” Leslie smiled. “I also love that people love my grandmother’s toffee so much, it makes me feel like she is truly with me.”
While Lavon did not live to see the success of 3 Sisters and her special toffee, her husband did, and boy was he proud. 

“Harry thought it was amazing, he truly did,” Leslie said, “and he loved that Lavon’s photo is on the label.”

From Lavon’s kitchen to Leslie’s, 3 Sisters Toffee is a precious memory made by hand and heart, and a happy holiday moment we can all share throughout this season and beyond...


3 Sisters Toffee is available at the San Clemente Store at the Outlets; The Abode on Del Mar Ave, SC; The Open Market OC in Laguna Hills; The Hollywood Barn in Carlsbad, Farmakis Farms in San Juan Capistrano (every other weekend); and various local events throughout the year. Visit the company: 3sisterstoffee.com for more details.
















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