Darigold puts the butter in famous butter crunch toffee

July 2, 2011

By Warren Kagarise

Confectioner Brown & Haley uses butter from the Darigold dairy in Issaquah for Almond Roca. By Greg Farrar

Inside each pink-and-gold tin, Almond Roca includes a fundamental ingredient: butter from Darigold in downtown Issaquah.

The longtime Tacoma confectioner Brown & Haley obtains butter — about 90 percent — for treats from Pacific Northwest dairies. From the local butter, about 90 percent originates at Darigold in Issaquah.

Brown & Haley CEO Pierson Clair said the arrangement includes benefits such as local job creation, reduced environmental impact and taste, a crucial factor in the confectionary industry.

“The flavor of the Issaquah butter is really, really good,” Clair said. “Almond Roca is all about quality. Darigold Issaquah butter is all about quality, and therefore, it’s just a perfect supplier for us.”

The beloved confection remains unchanged since 1923, when Harry Brown and J.C. Haley dreamed up Almond Roca. Company lore claims a librarian selected “roca” — Spanish for “rock” — for the name as a nod to the crunchy center.

The relationship between Brown & Haley and Darigold stretches back decades. The dairy along Issaquah Creek offers a top-notch product.

“We’re very loyal to the state of Washington,” Clair said.

Washington, in turn, is loyal to Almond Roca, although the candy’s appeal is not limited to the Evergreen State.

The chocolate-enrobed toffee encased in chopped almonds also enjoys enormous popularity in China. Almond Roca is marketed as a chic confection in the most-populous nation on the planet.

In September, Gov. Chris Gregoire detoured from the Shanghai World Expo to a Shanghai supermarket to promote Almond Roca.

The international appeal is rooted in a main ingredient inside each gold foil-swathed piece.

“You can truck butter from every place in the United States,” Clair said. “You can truck butter in from Wisconsin. You can truck it in from California.”

Still, for butter crunch toffee, nothing compares to Issaquah.

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