More than a century of making premium chocolates
In 1907, barber turned chocolatier Richard Carmon Purdys opened the very first Purdy’s Chocolates (now Purdys Chocolatier) shop on Robson Street in downtown Vancouver. From the beginning, Purdy insisted on using only the highest-quality, freshest ingredients in his chocolates. His reputation as one of Vancouver's finest chocolate makers grew steadily, and more and more people gravitated to his store for his handmade confections.
Although business survived the First World War, the early 1920s brought about financial hardship for Mr. Purdy and he was forced into receivership. The story of Purdy's Chocolates might have ended then and there, however a group of Purdy's major creditors didn't want to see the company go under and in 1925, their top bookkeeper, Hugh Forrester, purchased Purdy’s Chocolates for $1.00. In the late 1940s, Forrester’s youngest son, Frank, joined the business and Purdy’s Chocolates was well-positioned to take the lead in Vancouver’s chocolate market.
In 1963, Charles Flavelle and Eric Wilson purchased Purdy’s Chocolates from the Forresters and the company continued to thrive, growing from 5 shops in 1963, to 28 shops in 1980. In 1994, to ensure the company would remain a family business with Purdy’s values and traditions protected, Charles’ daughter, Karen Flavelle, joined Purdy’s in the role of Executive Vice-President. Karen’s previous experience with General Mills and Cara Operations proved invaluable. An amicable buyout of business partner Eric Wilson's interest in the company in 1996 cleared the way for Purdy's to become, once again, a family-owned business. In a smooth transition, Karen became President of Purdy’s, bought the business from her father and has been the sole owner and CEO since 1997.
Today, more than 110 years since Richard Purdy opened his first chocolate shop, we’re unquestionably Canada’s chocolatier and our tasty treats are enjoyed in over 75 shops across British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario – and by people all over the world.
And while there have been many changes in the world since 1907, our core company values have stayed the same; it’s all about fantastic chocolates, fantastic service and fantastic people.
Purdys Chocolatier Timeline
We’ve been making quality chocolate confections since 1907…and we have the sweet history to prove it.
1907: The Humble Beginnings
Richard Carmon Purdy was born on January 20, 1878 in London, Ontario to Hiram Wesley Purdy, a farmer, and Mary Ann Purdy (nee Young). As a young man, Richard Purdy married Sophia Stewart, and together they had a son, Frederick Wesley, born January 18, 1900, in Richard's hometown of London. The 1901 Canadian Census named Purdy as "Head of Household", with his occupation listed as "barber" — a far cry from chocolatier! Sadly, on August 29, 1903, Frederick died after a brief illness. We do not know whether Richard divorced his first wife, Sophia, or if she died at an early age — no additional records of her have been located. What we do know is that, not long after the death of his son, Richard Purdy made the first of many bold moves. He packed up his belongings and headed west to British Columbia with the dream of starting a new life.
At some point in his young life, Richard was seized with the notion of learning to make candy. In London he was already experimenting in his own kitchen, and by the time he moved west to B.C. he had assembled a pocketful of personal chocolate recipes.
Purdy established himself in a comfortable home at 990 Bute Street. In the first days of his new life in Vancouver, he practiced making chocolates in his home kitchen and peddled them on the streets. By the time he had perfected his recipes, Purdy had already created a small but enthusiastic base of customers who soon made his rich creations their chocolates of choice.
In 1907, realizing the business potential of his recipes, Purdy soon set up his first chocolate shop at 915 Robson Street, in what was rapidly becoming the new heart of the downtown shopping district.
1900: The Chocolatier joins the Café Business
From the beginning, Purdy insisted on using only the highest-quality, freshest ingredients in his chocolates. His reputation as one of Vancouver's finest chocolate makers grew steadily, and more and more people gravitated to his store for his handmade confections.
As Purdy's tiny kitchen could no longer keep up with his customers' zealous demands, he had to make a serious business decision. He hired more staff and expanded into a second chocolate shop at 675 Granville Street, sharing the large space with Devon Café. This new venue, just around the corner and down a block or two from his original store, was in a prime location, right across the street from the Hudson's Bay department store.
1914: Purdy makes it official
By 1914, the burgeoning City of Vancouver was claiming the title of metropolitan centre for all of western Canada. It was during this year that Richard Purdy made the decision that would help keep his name alive into the present day. Confident in his company's success, he established his own corporate entity, “R.C. Purdy Chocolates Limited.”
1918: A Manufacturer and Retailer of High Class Confection
In 1918, according to the Wrigley's British Columbia Directory, Purdy was considered a “Manufacturer and Retailer of High-Class Confectionery”. He had moved his Robson Street store to 990 Granville, in the centre of Vancouver's lively new theatre district.
1925: The Book Keeper becomes the Chocolatier
The boldness and daring that served Purdy so well in launching his business did not always work for him in the less public areas of his life. His adventurous inclination, which worked so brilliantly with chocolates, often turned to misadventure where money was concerned.
By the early 1920s, overwhelmed by debt and hounded by creditors, Purdy was forced into receivership. The story of Purdy's Chocolates might have ended then and there — except for the goodwill of some determined chocolate lovers.
A group of Purdy's major creditors, who were also big fans of the chocolatier's exotic creations, didn't want to see the company go under. From their point of view, Purdy's business was definitely worth saving. Confident in the value of Richard Purdy's product, Kirkland and Rose, one of the creditors, arranged to have their top bookkeeper, Hugh Forrester, sent in to help save the company.
Adept at handling financial challenges, Forrester soon had Purdy's paying back the major creditors. Forrester was clearly the right man for this job and within a few years the mountain of dept was eliminated. The creditors had no interest in running the business, but they were so pleased with Forrester's performance that in 1925 they sold the chocolate company to him for the token sum of $1.
Richard Purdy's love of chocolate proved to be no passing fancy. He would not allow his dream to disappear simply because he had lost his company. Soon Purdy was back on Granville Street, this time with a rolling cart, peddling chocolates that came out of his home kitchen.
With Vancouver's population increasing and transportation improving, people were moving further and further from the downtown core. Purdy's entrepreneurial spirit went into high gear as he realized there was a great new suburban market for his products. He took his skills and his chocolates to the lucky citizens of Burnaby, where he opened a new chocolate shop called Window Made Candy, which operated for quite a few years before finally retiring.
1939: Chocolate and Adversity
The Second World War meant rationing of sugar, butter, and cream – seriously important ingredients!
Candy maker’s everywhere found it nearly impossible to get enough sugar, butter and cream to meet demand. To offset dairy shortages Hugh Forrester resorted to buying a farm with a herd of 20 cows in Ladner. During those lean years of food shortages and rationing the farm filled a vital need and kept Purdy’s in the chocolate-making business.
Because of restrictions, Forrester could only make as many chocolates as his meagre supplies would allow. He would open his doors at noon to line ups going around the block and sell out in half an hour.
Late 1940s: Like Father like Son
Frank was young and eager, as his father had been before him. He quickly immersed himself in the family business, learning as much as he could about the art and science of making chocolates. He was also a visionary, with a sharp eye for a company's growth potential. Before long Frank was producing new varieties of chocolates for his customers, setting higher standards in marketing, and inventing machines and modernizing production methods that are still in use in Purdy's twenty-first-century factory.
1949: A Factory at last!
By the late 1940s, the business had outgrown its cramped and dark basement candy kitchen. The chocolatiers and other production staff were literally tripping over themselves and each other. Purdy's urgently needed to find a larger facility where the chocolatiers could work their magic.
Frank started a search that took him all over town. Eventually he found a location on West 7th Avenue, in an area known as Fairview Slopes. In 1949, Purdy's acquired the property and moved into its new factory. This plant stayed in operation until the early 1980s. The old building on West 7th is now a renovated private residence. A small city park in the neighborhood, officially named Choklit Park, stands in recognition of more than 30 years of Purdy's in the area.
1950: The Longest box of chocolates the world has ever seen!
Imagine a box of chocolates three feet long! Purdy's Famous Yardlong box of chocolates has been delighting and surprising customers for more than 50 years!
In the early 1950s, Frank's wife, Joy, was always looking for new ways to sell chocolates. There happened to be a men's clothing store right next to Purdy's Granville Street shop. Standing outside the clothing store one day, Joy had a great idea: what about creating a long, skinny box filled with chocolates that people could reuse as a gift box for ties?
Well, the rest is history! Purdy's famous Yardlong box of chocolates was created — a 36-inch-long box brimming with chocolate treats.
1953: The Purple wave hits the Suburbs
Frank established the company outside the downtown core with the opening of a chocolate shop in Kerrisdale. On opening day there was a huge line-up at the new outlet on West 41st Avenue. Customers were thrilled that they no longer had to make the long trip downtown to buy their cherished chocolates.
1962: Let's go to the Mall
Malls were the hot new retail concept but had not yet come into their own in Vancouver the way they had in the United States. The new centre, anchored with a Woodward's Department Store on the north side of Marine Drive, expanded to the south side with Eaton's, Purdy's and a few other tenants. When Frank signed his lease, the south mall was still nearly half empty.
1963: The Flavelle and Wilson Years
The decision to establish the Park Royal store marked the beginning of a contentious final chapter in the working relationship between Hugh and Frank. Frank came under pressure from his more conservative father, who deemed the move too risky. Frank was always pushing the entrepreneurial envelope in his eagerness to blaze new paths for the company. This usually provoked a worried reaction from Hugh, whose accounting background no doubt made him err on the side of caution. The father-son partnership became untenable and in mid-1963 Hugh and Frank Forrester took everyone by surprise when they announced they were putting Purdy's up for sale.
It all began innocently enough, with two young moms, Lucile Flavelle and Shirley Wilson, strolling with their babies in the neighbourhood where they lived. One day they struck up a casual conversation and soon became friends. They introduced their husbands to each other, thus beginning the lifelong friendship and successful business partnership of Charles Flavelle and Eric Wilson.
Both Charles and Eric were in their early thirties, young and feisty, and eager to take on a new challenge. Eric had financial and retail expertise; Charles had manufacturing and construction know-how. It was a perfect fit. They knew of Purdy's reputation for fine-quality chocolates and were committed fans of the company's confections. Charles had a sweet tooth and a passion for Purdy's, having grown up with it; Eric discovered Purdy's when he arrived from England. When they heard about Purdy's going on the block, they sensed an opportunity.
But when they approached the banks, the partners were advised against purchasing this small company because it had not demonstrated great profitability. Having seen the company struggle financially with past owners, the banks were very cautions about lending money.
The men did not give up. They ended up financing the purchase with a loan guarantee provided by Charles Flavelle's father. With the guarantee and bank loan in place, Charles and Eric took proud ownership of Purdy's Chocolates in August 1963.
1963: The Milk Chocolate Revolution
Purdy's originally used only dark chocolate to make its products. In response to customer requests, the company began producing chocolates using milk chocolate as well.
1969: Only a ferry ride away…
The new retail outlet was a runaway success and remains one of the top stores in the chain.
1970: A Place to Play
The idea of Choklit Park was sparked in 1969 when Purdy's ran into problems with its awkward loading facilities. Access to the building was by a narrow and steep driveway beside the factory. Truck drivers never liked backing down it because their unsecured loads would often tip over. If only Purdy's could create a circular driveway, where the trucks could drive down, swing out and back up to the factory loading bays, their problem would be solved.
The area around the factory on West 7th was a bleak mix of industry and residences, with no parks for local kids. Charles felt that the neighborhood children would benefit from a safe play area. If Purdy's could build a new driveway on the city's unused street end and add a park to the small wooded area next to the factory, the result would be a winner for all. Charles's request to lease the undeveloped site was approved by City Council, on condition that “Purdy's shall be responsible for the creation of a children's play area”.
The park was complete by the end of the summer of 1970 and soon became a huge draw for the neighbourhood and for people from many other parts of the city.
1970: Purdy's Chocolates opens in Chinook Shopping Centre in Calgary
The Chinook Centre store was the first Calgary location for Purdy's Chocolates
Purdys got a little kittenish in the 70's with this Advert which Advised suitors on how to make up after a lovers quarrel or similar blunders. Still pretty great advice.
"For years now, we at Purdy's have been selling candy to starry-eyed suitors. In fact, more Vancouver brides have said "yes" over a box of Purdys candy than we can remember. So for the uninitiated, a few tips from us experts. For making up after lover's quarrels: Opera Rolls. Tell her this is your way of singing her praises. For being late for a date: Chocolate Creams. (Enter her house telling her you have a soft spot for her.) For neglecting a birthday or some similar occasion: Peanut Brittle (Because you're all broken up about it.) But for any occasion, or just a pleasant gift for that special someone, take along a box of Purdys Chocolates. It might make her feel a little kittenish."
1980: We’re not so different you and I
In 1980 Charles Flavelle opened the first store in Seattle, Washington. At the time, he thought Seattle, with its West Coast, casual chic, active lifestyle culture was not so different then Vancouver. Over the next thirteen years he went on to open 5 more stores which experienced varying degrees of success until he decided to close them in 1993. "We never could establish the Purdys culture" said Mr. Flavelle. Valuable lessons were learned which contributed to the success of Purdys eventual move east to Ontario, whose market more closely resembles the American market than Vancouver.
1982: Lookin' good for 75!
By 1980, Purdy's had grown to 28 stores and was in need of a larger factory and warehouse space. After three years of searching for the right facility, the Canada Dry building at Kingsway and Earles Street came up for sale.
In 1982, as Purdy's celebrated its 75th anniversary, staff moved into the state of the art, 57,000 sq/ft factory at 2777 Kingsway. On October 7 of that year, the official ribbon-cutting ceremony took place and soon the unmistakable aroma of chocolate was drifting through the neighbourhood from the new kitchens of Vancouver's oldest chocolate maker.
On the first thanksgiving weekend in the new location, Purdy's opened their doors to allow the public a peek inside the gleaming new facility. Never before had customers been afforded the opportunity to see firsthand how their favourite chocolates were made. The event was a hit, with families lining up around the block. Over the three-day weekend, 17,000 people toured the new factory.
Early 1990s: Stop biting off our noses! The Hedgehog crave hits Vancouver
In the early 1990s, Purdy's introduced what was to become a customer favourite: the hazelnut Hedgehog. Did you know that the hedgehog is a time-honoured symbol of good luck in Belgium?
1994: Karen Flavelle joins Purdy's as Executive Vice President
In 1994, to ensure that the company would remain a family business with Purdy's values and traditions protected, daughter Karen, having previously gained valuable experience with General Mills and Cara Operations, joined Purdy's. An amicable buyout of business partner Eric Wilson's interest in the company in 1996 cleared the way for Purdy's to become, once again, a family-owned business.
1996: The Colour of Chocolate is Purple
The 70’s and 80’s got a bit wild colour-scheme wise. Karen, with her marketing background, encouraged the team to refocus on making purple the colour of Chocolate
1997: Karen becomes President
Karen assumed the role of President in 1997 with the Flavelle family's blessings. Bringing her years of corporate experience into play, she began to move Purdy's in exciting new directions. In 1997 Purdy's Chocolates had 42 retail locations. By 2008 Karen would open 13 more stores, for a total of 55 stores in British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario.
She reintroduced the original purple as a key element of Purdy's new image, focusing on the colour in packaging and in stores as they were renovated. Karen felt that the distinctive royal shade would be a simple and effective way to rebrand the company. Soon customers reported being able to spot a Purdy's shopping bag clear across busy streets.
Today, Karen is on the board at Retail Council of Canada (RCC) and is the Provincial Retail Chair acting on the Ideas Exchange Program Planning Committee for International Council of Shopping Centres (ICSC). She is a Board Member of Confectionary Manufacturing Association of Canada (CMAC), a member of Retail Confectioners International (RCI), Retail BC, Canadian Association of Family Enterprises (CAFE), Calgary Chamber of Commerce, and the BC Business Council (BCBC). Karen is also a member and former Forum Chair of the Young Presidents Organization (YPO).
1999: The Purdys website is born!
Keeping her eye on future retail trends, Karen quickly realized that Purdy's should be offering online shopping services to customers. More and more people had home computers, and e-sales were climbing. In 1999, Purdy's launched its website, and it has grown in popularity ever since. Now Purdy's chocolate lovers all over the world could get their favourite chocolates delivered right to their doorstep.
2002: Top 50 Best Employers in Canada!
Purdy's Chocolates is named one of The 50 Best Employers in Canada, by Hewitt Associates, a global human resources company. Purdy's would be bestowed with the honour six more times in 2004, 2008, 2009, 2014, 2015, and 2016.
2002: A Star is born…
Purdys Chocolates is awarded 1st Prize in the Stars of Vancouver Readers' Choice Awards 2002 in the category of Best Chocolate Maker!
2002: Taste Testing the Waters out East
Future President “2 meter Peter” (Higgins) is greeted like a rock star in his purple Purdys polo at Upper Canada mall while putting on a Purdys taste test.
2003: The Hedgehog is on the loose! – intro the "Hedgehog Utility Vehicle"
"When we do a grand opening for a store in Ontario we'll drive our HUV -that stands for Hedgehog Utility Vehicle- right into the mall and park it in front of the store. It's not actually a van, it’s a VW bug that's wrapped in Purdys' purple and pictures of Purdys' chocolates." ~ Pearl Giggie
2004: “What took you so long??” Purdys (finally!) hits Ontario
“When we finally started opening Purdys stores in Ontario, people would say to us routinely: “oh, we’re so glad you’re here! ‘What took you so long?’” ~Pearl Giggie
For many years, most people in other parts of Canada only knew of Purdy's through word of mouth, family or visits to British Columbia and Alberta stores. There was a growing call from the Canada-wide legions of Purdy's fans to open stores in cities beyond Calgary and Edmonton. Sensing that the time was right for the company to begin expanding east, in 2004 Karen launched a store in Oakville, Ontario.
This store proved to be a big hit with the local customers. Opening day saw line-ups down the mall. There was a hint of a party to mark the occasion, with some first-time customers showing up dressed in the signature purple. Three more stores followed shortly after in the Greater Toronto Area, and Erin Mills opened in the spring of 2007.
2004: And the Award for The Best New Piece goes to…
Caramel Carnival! A new smooth caramel Dulce de Leche inspired piece created by the Taste Master himself: Head Chocolatier Gary Mitchell, for the Retail Confectioners International Convention. No surprise this piece had the judges swooning, and remains a favourite to this day.
2004: The Santa Claus Parade!
It's no secret that we're pretty big fans of Christmas. We love being part of the magic of showing loved ones you care. And we especially love to give back, with events like the Vancouver Santa Claus Parade which raises money for the Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society. Purdys has been part of the Santa Claus Parade since its first day in 2004 and every year since.
Find out details on this year's parade at their website.
2005: Most Influential Women in Business
Purdys Commander in Chief, Karen Flavelle blazes an exciting trail inspiring women in business across Canada.
Karen Flavelle won the coveted Influential Women in Business Award in 2005. In accepting the Award, sponsored annually by the publication Business in Vancouver, Ms. Flavelle thanked the entire Purdy's team for making it possible — and for meeting many challenges, including Purdy's successful expansion into Ontario. Saying she was truly honoured to be nominated with such an impressive group of women, she said she recognized she could not have done it without the dedication of Purdy's employees, the entire management team, and for the continuing support of her husband.
2007: New Digs on Chester Street
Running out of elbow room, and more importantly room for all the chocolate, Purdys moves our warehouse and head office to Chester Street.
2007: Hall of Famers
Purdys is inducted into the Vancouver Board of Trade Hall of Fame for 100 years of being part of the business community in Vancouver.
2007: The Chocolatier’s Apprentice
The official autobiography of, well, a cartoon guy and his delightful pet hedgehog raises money and awareness for Raise a Reader
2007: Purdys' is Granted a Coat of Arms
Purdys' Coat of Arms was carefully crafted, with a meaning behind each element. The cocoa tree at the top bears the fruit which is the primary ingredient in our chocolate. It also evokes the family tree, a reminder that Purdys is a family owned company, and includes the "Purdys family" of employees.
The crown below is wreathed with maple leaves, universally recognized as a Canadian emblem. Purdy's has been a Canadian company since its inception. The cloth mantling is purple and gold, which are Purdys' colours. The supporters are reindeer, symbols of strength, rarity, and leadership. The reindeer are also a whimsical reference to the fact that Purdys is so well-known for Christmas gifts.
At the base of the Coat of Arms is the Purdys' motto, "Quality, Trust, Tradition." This encapsulates the source of Purdys' success: we began with high quality products, which earned customers' trust, and became family traditions.
2007: 100 Years of Chocolate
Purdy's celebrated its Centennial year in 2007, marking a century of operation as a Canadian family-owned business. This milestone was observed in a variety of ways. A limited edition Centennial Tin was released in stores, with a selection of assorted chocolates inside. Canada Post produced a commemorative envelope which shared the story of Purdys. A beautiful coffee table book, Chocolate of Choice, was created. It follows the Purdys' story with pictures, news clippings, memories of employees and fans, and tidbits of information about the history and process of making chocolate.
2008: "#1 Top Woman Owned Business” by Business in Vancouver Magazine
This year Purdy's Chocolates was named #1 in the Top 100 Woman Owned Businesses by Business in Vancouver Magazine.
2008: Edmontonians vote Hedgehogs one of the Top 30 things to enjoy while visiting the city
2009: The Himalayan Pink Salt Caramel - The Caramel to best all caramels
The chocolatiers in the Purdy's factory kitchen dreamed up a confection that took an original favourite and gave it a very modern twist. They started with Mr. Purdy's original vanilla caramel recipe, and added a sprinkling of Himalayan Pink Salt on the top. Himalayan Pink Salt is hand-mined from deposits formed in the Himalayan Mountains during the Jurassic era, and stone-ground. The pink colour comes from minerals in the salt. The combination of sweet and salty worked - Pink Salt Caramels became an instant best-seller!
2009: Golden Plate Readers' Choice Award
Purdy's was voted Best Chocolate Shop in Vancouver by readers of the Georgia Straight Newspaper.
2010: Olympic Dreams
The 2010 Winter Olympic Games were held in Vancouver, and as a 103-year-old family-owned Vancouver-based company, Purdys was the perfect fit to be the official chocolate provider. Purdys teamed up with Rogers Chocolates of Victoria, and both companies crafted a collection of official Olympic chocolates. Karen Flavelle, owner and president of Purdys Chocolates, was also a torch-bearer in the Olympic Torch Relay.
2010: Gary gets his very own Chocolate Kitchen – flavour experiments abound!
Gary’s enthusiasm for his chocolate kitchen in a word would have to be described as zealous. With its inauguration, Gary finally had a space for all his flavour experiments. He invents hundreds of flavour combinations every year with only a very select few being chosen to go in the shops. “Taste testers” (anyone who happens to be walking by) never know if they will be asked to try a chili pepper and dark chocolate piece, or rosemary, or chain tea, or bacon, or a Guinness beer truffle.
2010: Purdys in Union Station
Purdy's opened their first store in downtown Toronto, at Union Station. The enthusiasm of customers was overwhelming; Union Station quickly grew to one of the busiest stores chain-wide! Another shop opened at Hillcrest Shopping Centre in Richmond Hill, bringing the total of Purdy's stores in Ontario to 10.
2011: Turona - Spanish Dreams
This exquisitely elegant piece was crafted in the bold imagination of Head Chocolatier Gary Mitchell who was inspired by the pieces’ name sake. Turona is a famous 16th Century Spanish Confection. The piece has two layers: the first an almond and hazelnut Gianduja with a crisp French pastry flake, and the second a rich dark chocolate truffle made with fresh whipping cream and cocoa. Turona's key ingredient is its 65% dark chocolate made from cocoa which is harvested from a single Peruvian plantation. The soil, which previously harvested bananas, retains flavour of the fruit adding a distinct taste.
2011: Brie and Fig Truffle wins Best New Truffle at Canada’s Baking and Sweets Show
Purdy's Chocolates Head Chocolatier, Gary Mitchell, was awarded the winning prize for Best Truffle in the Professional Baking Competition at the 2011 Canada's Baking and Sweets Show. The competition was judged by a celebrity guest panel and presented by Buddy Valastro (TLC's "Cake Boss") at the International Centre in Mississauga.
Gary's winning entry was a savoury Brie Cheese and Fig Truffle, a recipe he had been developing for over a year. The truffle is crafted with triple cream brie cheese, fresh basil and lemon zest and topped with fig. It is then hand dipped in a blend of three different dark chocolates and adorned with a cocoa butter transfer. There are no current plans for Purdy's Chocolates to introduce the winning truffle piece in shops.
2011: Meeting the Cocoa Farmers in Ghana
In 2011, Owner and President Karen Flavelle travelled to Africa with Chocolate Scientist and Chief Operating Officer, Peter Higgins to see firsthand the results of Purdy's involvement with World Cocoa Foundation and Winrock International. They visited cocoa farmers in Ghana and gained insight on the process of cocoa cultivation, and observed the ways in which Purdy's assistance is helping the farmers learn to excel at their business. They also met single mothers who have received micro-loans from Purdy's, allowing them to make enough money to send their children to school. As well, they met school children that are benefitting from the programs Purdy's is funding. More information can be found on our website about the successes we are witnessing.
2012: Purdy’s Glee Club WINS Canada Sings
Purdy's Chocolates participated in Canada Sings, a televised competition in which corporate glee clubs compete to win a $25,000 donation to the charity of their choice. Purdys selected the MS Society of Canada, a charity close to their hearts since Kevin Williams' (IT support and Glee Club member) wife suffers from MS. Pitted against the club from Go Transit, team captain Kriston Dean (Director of Marketing) led the team to victory with their performance, which started with "The Candy Man" and segued into "I Gotta Feeling" by the Black Eyed Peas. In addition to the winnings from the show, Purdys Chocolates donated $10,000 to the MS Society.
2012: Helping Hearts benefit Variety the Children’s Charity
Purdys Chocolates teamed up with the morning news crew at Global BC to raise funds for the Variety Show of Hearts Telethon. Purdys Head Chocolatier crafted a heart-shaped milk chocolate piece with a dulce de leche centre. Boxes of 7 hearts were sold in Purdys shops and $2 from the sale of each box was contributed to Variety, the Children's Charity. With the enthusiastic support of employees and customers, Purdys raised $12,690, and committed to helping the cause again in 2013.
2012: Peter Higgins becomes President of Purdys
Karen Flavelle relinquished her role as President to Peter Higgins, so that she could focus on other aspects of the business. Having worked for the company since 1998, Peter now oversees all areas of the company while Karen Flavelle remains the Owner and CEO.
2013: Purdys Chocolatier featured on Undercover Boss
Director of Marketing Kriston Dean went "undercover" for a special assignment. She posed as a new hire in the Purdys Chocolate factory and shops, as a part of the W Network's show Undercover Boss Canada. She gained insight on ways in which Purdys could serve customers better, and gained a great deal of appreciation for the dedication and pride that Purdys workers bring to their jobs every day.
2013: Peter Rabbit Gets a Name Change
Peter Rabbit, the beloved bunny of many children's Easter Baskets, got a new name in 2013. Henceforward he would be known as Barnaby Rabbit. Standing tall with his collared shirt and tie tucked into his voluminous pants, Barnaby continues to be a part of Easter traditions.
2013: The NEW Sweet Georgia Brown Family
Purdys' customers have always had a sweet spot for Sweet Georgia Browns - large, gooey confections created with jumbo pecans, caramel, and milk chocolate. In 2013, the family grew from one to four. Purdy's released a Dark Chocolate Sweet Georgia Brown for lovers of dark chocolate, Mini Sweet Georgia Browns for a bite-sized treat, and No Sugar Added Mini Sweet Georgia Browns. Now there is a Sweet Georgia Brown for everyone!
2013: Single Origin Bars
In 2012 Purdys Head Chocolate Scientist Peter Higgins and Owner Karen Flavelle set out on an epic journey to discover the highest quality cocoa from the farthest corners of the world. They trekked through the Amazon rainforest of northern Peru, explored the coastal cocoa growing towns of Ecuador, and the beautiful savannahs and forests of the Ashanti region of Ghana, all to bring back some of the finest cocoa beans in the world. Single Origin chocolate bars are sourced from a single region or even plantation. Each Bar contains a different type of cocoa bean. Respectively, Forastero from Ghana, Trinitario from Ecuador, and Nacional from Peru. The resulting chocolate has a distinct and complex flavour created by the influence of soil, climate and growing conditions.
2015: Karen Flavelle Canada's Top 100 Most Powerful Women
Commander in chief Karen Flavelle (Owner & CEO) recognized once again for her Entrepreneurship and Leadership in business.
“Karen Flavelle’s passion for quality, tradition and chocolate has been the key to her re-invigorating this iconic, award-winning family business and growing it from 44 shops to 71 and into the leading chocolatier in Canada.
Karen: “One of the things I am most proud of is that we are the largest chocolatier in Canada to use 100% sustainably sourced cocoa. More than 10 years ago Purdys began to work with cocoa farmers to develop techniques to increase yield so they could earn more money to improve their, and their families livelihoods. Furthermore, in order to empower the women in cocoa growing communities we facilitated access to education and began giving loans to enable them to start or improve their businesses.”
2016: Goat Cheese & Chardonnay WINS Best New Truffle at the Baking and Sweets Awards Show
Purdys’ Goat Cheese & Chardonnay Truffle was the winner of the Baking and Sweets Best Truffle Award. Goat Cheese & Chardonnay is a refreshingly unique two-layer piece. We started with an exquisite ganache made from creamy goat cheese smoothly blended with white chocolate, and paired it with a milk chocolate layer infused with BC’s own Quail’s Gate Okanagan Chardonnay enrobed in creamy milk chocolate. This piece is a delightful taste experience that’s both savoury and sweet.
2016: Purdys opens first store in Saskatoon!
With the opening of a store in Saskatoon, Purdys now has stores in four provinces! Slowly we're spreading that purple, chocolate love across Canada.