There is an air of change on Logan’s historic Center Street where the Bluebird Candy factory sits in what remains of the old Palace Hotel.
The tiny retail space has disappeared, and at present it is an active construction zone where dreams and memories are being recreated under the vision of owner Justin Hamilton, who purchased the business last year.
“My hope for the Bluebird is to take it back to its original grandeur,” Hamilton said. “I want to recreate the ambience of what the old candy store would have looked like in the original days — obviously this wasn’t the building, but we’re just trying to recreate it.”
Candy production is ongoing in the rear of the building, and those famous chocolates can still be purchased at the company's Main Street store just a few doors down from the Juniper Inn.
Hamilton said he attended an international candy show in Philadelphia last year after purchasing the Bluebird Candy Co., where he learned more about the tradition of candy making.
At the turn of the century, in the early 1900s, every town had its little hand-dipped chocolate shops, he said. Immigrants came from Europe in the late 1800s, and they all started to miss their recipes for treats from back in Europe.
“So, all of them kind of brought their own special little candies to all of these little towns throughout the United States,” Hamilton said. Not a lot of them have survived, so it is very unique to still find old hand-dipped chocolate companies.
Bluebird candies got its start in 1914 when O. Guy Cardon, Mark Neuberger and Julius Bergsjo got together and opened up the Bluebird Candy Shoppe.
They opened up the little store at 12 West Center, in a small portion of the Thatcher Bank and Hotel, located on the corner of Center and Main.
The Logan Republican, one of the local newspapers at the time, offers little glimpses into the business.
In 1916, it was described as “one of Logan’s most beautiful stores,” located in “the new, fireproof hotel building.”
“Their shop has grown famous in two years, and today they are receiving orders for their delicious candies from all over the world,” another article reads.
The shop included the works of a florist by the name of Ben Carlisle, and the paper frequently posted advertisements for fresh-cut flowers. Carnations were a favorite at 35 cents a dozen.
During that same year, the candy store brought baseball fans together during the World Series when O. Guy Cardon made it possible to get the scores.
The following summer, the Bluebird opened a dance hall on the second floor or the Shamhart-Christiansen department store, just one of the many locations where their candies were sold.
In the early 1920s, the flourishing business moved to 19 North Main and expanded to include meals. The famous marble counter, the soda fountain, the candies and the food all came together to create memories for everyone who had the chance to visit the establishment.
At some point, Neuberger and Bergsjo, the “candy man,” left the partnership, but Cardon remained, running the business until his retirement, when he turned it over to his son, Guy N. Cardon.
According to Hamilton, the current factory location was purchased in 1967. The candies were made and packaged there, and they were sold in the restaurant for another 20 years.
In 1988, the younger Cardon — now approaching his 70s — placed the business up for sale. There simply were no family members to pass the family business on to, he told the Deseret News.
The Bluebird Candy Co. was sold to Dick Motta, but he wasn’t interested in the restaurant, so Cardon retained ownership for almost 10 years. He and Motta maintained a partnership and the candies stayed in the restaurant.
In the mid-90s, Cardon sold the restaurant to another local restaurateur, and it was later sold again to the Xu family, which owns the Bluebird today.
It was this point when the Bluebird Candy Co. and the the Bluebird Restaurant were truly separated, Hamilton said.
The candies were no longer in the Bluebird restaurant. The sweets for sale there now are from another source.
“The Bluebird — it was that iconic place that everybody knows,” Hamilton said. “They come back to Cache Valley and it’s Utah State, the Bluebird, the tabernacle, those few little things that everybody thinks of.”
While the candy company is going to have a new look, it will be one that is reminiscent of the past, Hamilton said.
The changes include improvements to the art-deco exterior on the front of the building and the creation of an open, public space in the alley located between the factory and Anderson Seed.
Inside, the retail space has been enlarged to make way for larger, nicer glass candy displays. Glass windows will separate that space from the working space where candy centers are prepared and hand-dipped, Hamilton said.
“In today’s world it is all about the art of food. That’s what we love — we love to know that it is grown locally or that it is handmade, that’s really what sells,” Hamilton said. “That’s what our hopes are, that this building is going to bring people together.”
Hamilton also plans to bring back ice cream so people can stop by for a milkshake or a hot fudge sundae.
The old baby blue Bluebird boxes with the gold foil bottom will be coming back, as well as the neon sign out front, Hamilton said.
“One of the beauties of getting chocolates is the beauty of the box and the package,” Hamilton said. “We love the gold, we love where it just has that awesome feel when you open it up.”
The new boxes are expected to arrive in a couple of weeks. Hamilton is also introducing additional items like dishes, platters and refillable Christmas advent calendars that make a gift of Bluebird Candy a collector's item.
Cache Valley residents have their share of Bluebird memories, from family members working there, to after-school visits for a treat, to wedding celebrations.
Norma Palmer said she used for work next door to the Bluebird restaurant and candy shop at 19 N. Main, and every day she looked forward to her lunch break when she could indulge in a chopped ham sandwich with Mr. Neuberger’s mustard.
“It was one of their signature dishes and my favorite,” she said.
Steve Hailstone’s memories are of his great-grandfather who owned a butcher shop and sold meat and chili to the Bluebird for years, and his grandmother was a chocolate dipper.
“In about 1942 I was only 4 or 5, and my grandmother lived a block east of Main Street on Center Street,” said Ann Houggard. “I loved going to visit her, and we would go into the Bluebird for lunch and sit at the counter. I always ordered a chocolate malt and toast with catsup on the side. People thought it was so funny. I was her only grandchild and she loved the fuss. But the smell in there was wonderful — and it still is.”
Hamilton hopes that memories like these will keep people coming to the Bluebird Candy Co. to make new memories in the future.
The remodel is scheduled for completion early next year.