The other day I ate a Pearson's Salted Nut Roll for the first time in maybe 20 years. Minnesotans take the Nut Roll for granted, like pontoons and snow. They just are. They're the candy that adults in our lives were most likely to love, thanks to the salt and the less sweet. (Way back in the day, my aunt worked at the plant and she said the only thing she could stomach was the Nut Rolls, thanks to the sickening aroma of chocolate permeating the air at all hours — they took delivery of five million pounds of the stuff annually. She also said you haven't lived until you've had one hot off the belt.)
My recent nut roll was delicious. I felt the need to know more about this most Minnesota of candies. And I wanted one hot off the belt.
Sadly, Pearson's doesn't offer tours anymore, though the plant is still very much in operation, as it has been since 1909, located on West Seventh Street in St. Paul. The signage alone is a treasure.
Online, we could only find one very poorly edited video (overdubbed by "I Want Candy" by Bow Wow Wow) of a Salted Nut Roll being made, but we did come across this most excellent 1960s film touting Pearson's as the "best candy in the world."
This is definitely no internet-age "Pearson's was live" production. It goes on for a full 10 minutes, showcasing several of the company's signature creations. Long gone is the 7-Up Bar, a wonder that could never exist in today's mass-produced world, and certainly not for an incredible 10 cents. Its components were seven completely disparate bites (a variety of seasonally changing fillings from cherry cream to chocolate pudding to Brazil nut) covered in dark chocolate. Person's discontinued the equipment, sold the name to you-know-who, and they say they'll "never, ever" make the candy again thanks to its expensive and time-consuming production. It's lost forever to the annals of history.
You can spot some other discontinued items in the vid, as well as several of the righteous treats still on the market.
Check it out, and then dash out for your Nut Roll. You don't want to take them for granted.