1235 Apalachee Parkway, Tallahassee FL •  850.942.2557

Local Spotlight—Raley's Confectionary, Artisan Hard Candy


Natural Times, October/November/December 2013

By Michele Hatton

I turned the tiny log-shaped candy round and round in my hand. Like a small jewel, the outside glistened with a luminous bronze; the inside was ivory-colored. On the surface was a perfect, hand-sculpted image of a pumpkin. When I put the candy in my mouth, I expected a sharp, sugary taste, the kind I associate with hard candy. Instead, my mouth filled with a velvety pumpkin flavor—nutmeg, allspice and caramel. I realized then that I was eating candy that was in a class all its own.

Walking into Wes Raley’s shop is like stepping back 150 years when candy was made by hand and sold in specialty candy stores. His wooden cupboards are stocked with bowls of shimmering rock-hard candy, each sculpted with a unique design. What sets him apart from other confectioners is his commitment to using only natural flavors, natural colors and free-trade organic sugar. “As far as I can tell, I am the only one in the world doing it with natural colors and sugars,” says Raley. Using extracts from red beets, edible flowers, annatto, alfalfa (which confers a deep green color to the candy) and other natural foods, he is able to create candy with dazzling colors. “Candy is an indulgence,” says Raley. “You’re not eating candy to enrich yourself. It needs to be beautiful, nice to the eye, and it should be something natural.”

His natural flavors (over 100) encompass mostly fruits from around the world, among them: guava, mango, lime, watermelon, pomegranate, grapefruit, and even root beer. These ingredients deliver an authentic fruit taste. Each piece is sculpted with custom-made designs: logos for corporations, hearts for weddings, ninja turtles for birthday parties and emoticons.

Raley’s Confectionary is a family business. He spends long hours in the kitchen boiling, stretching, sculpting and chopping his candy, enjoying the creativity needed to make each unique batch. His wife handles the accounts, the shipping and their toddler, who enjoys the occasional tasting. To learn more about Raley’s Confectionary, visit http://raleysconfectionary.com. While you’re there, watch the video he made to help students learn the science and math skills that are critical to candy making. 

Raley has been making candy for seven years. Business is now “going great guns” with his product being shipped to places as far away as Hong Kong. He currently sells to a handful of local and national retailers around the country, including New Leaf Market Co-op, which carries a variety of his flavors.

Local visitors are welcome to come watch him make candy and, of course, taste his latest creation. His shop, which also serves as his kitchen, is located in the back room of Fermentation Lounge’s Cider Lodge at 415 St. Frances Street, Suite 114, Tallahassee, Florida. He is there most afternoons and evenings beginning at 3:00 pm.

Raley’s Confectionary candy is vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free and peanut-free, making it a great gift for most everyone.


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