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Lee's Candies celebrating 75 years in downtown Boise

“Yeah, it's been here forever, and the recipes that we use today are the same recipes that Lee Nokleby started with when he opened the business back in 1947.”

BOISE, Idaho — A lot has changed over the years, but time seems to slow down behind the doors of Lee’s Candies.

“Lee’s has been in business for 75 years. This year, it's the 75th anniversary,” said Katie Fernandez, owner of Lee’s Candies in Boise.

There are a lot of constants in this chocolate shop, and longtime customers can taste it.

“Yeah, it's been here forever. And the recipes that we use today are the same recipes that Lee Nokleby started with when he opened the business back in 1947,” Fernandez said.

Back in 1947, Lee’s Candies opened in Downtown Boise. Candy connoisseur LG Nokleby worked with his son, Lee, to open the store after traveling the country, searching for the greatest candy recipes.

The story goes, Lee’s Candies was a hit and before too long the operation run by Lee moved to the storefront still known as its home. The Nokleby notion always remained the same, “never change your quality.” That was an important message Lee instilled in his son, Curtis, who took over in 1986. That message was passed on to a new family in 2021.

The Nokleby family passed the torch to Katie Fernandez and her father Ken, a new family duo.

“I was looking for something fun to do, so we decided to take it over,” Fernandez said.

Katie is relatively new to the candy game, but she has a deep appreciation and value for the Lee legacy.

“It's overwhelming, and, you know, we knew it would be hard, but you don't know what you don't know until you start doing it. I realized there was a really high standard to uphold. We have customers coming in all the time saying, you know, my grandma used to take me when I was a little kid,” Fernandez said.

Longtime customers know this, but newcomers may be surprised. The bulk of chocolates and candies here are so fresh because they are made just steps away from the storefront.

“It's a lot of work, so you can eat more of it, right? Bring on all those calories,” Fernandez said.

The team here is full speed ahead, carrying on the exact same recipes LG Nokleby came up with when Harry Truman was president.

“Like this really is a legacy. So there's a little bit of pressure there,” Fernandez said.

It was hard not to get hooked though. Katie remembers the moment she knew this was for her, watching the candy come to life.

“One of the clerks handed me one. She's like, 'you want to try one right off the bat?' Put it in my mouth. I was like, 'that is one of the best things I have ever eaten',” Fernandez said.

Consistency is king over the past 75 years, something the team here learned from customers and families that have shared the chocolate creations for generations.

“We try to keep the feel about the same. And that's something I learned early on when I took over. People would come in, I was like, 'oh, here we go, this will change this.' And as I started to visit with the customers, they like it the way it is. They don't want it to change. They want to come in and be able to feel that nostalgia,” Fernandez said.

Katie and company hand craft chocolates, caramels, and more. Taking each creation down to the finest detail. This team takes great pride in celebrating the legacy of Lee’s.

“They are incredible. I have an amazing staff. It's really nice to be able to step away and know that everything is being handled,” Fernandez said.

The Fernandez family is also focused on the future, the next 75 years.

“Every single day, any time I get to work with customers, I hear some story about what Lee's has meant to their family and, you know, how long they've been coming and how important it is too,” Fernandez said.

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