January 2012 - Cerreta Chocolate / Wrigley Mansion

The Living Room

Cerreta Chocolate Factory Counter

Making Chocolates

Lunch at Wrigley Mansion

Grand Player Piano

See our Photo Gallery for more pictures

(Below are two reportings of the same trip!  Between the two versions, you can get a complete picture of this outing!)

As submitted by Bill Stasi, trip organizer:

Our first trip of the year was off on a journey for some to visit spots we all knew were out there but never found time to visit. For others it may have been the time to see these sites in more depth. This provided the opportunity for 43 of the 99%ers to see how some of the 1%ers lived their lives in the valley.We arrived early at the Carreta Chocolate Factory and having never been there, we were a little befuddled as to when the tour would start. I now know I should have made numerous trips to check it out and try all the different chocolates, but I probably would have gained ten pounds in the process. I do not think they were prepared for the vast number of curious people so interested in seeing how chocolate was made. This did give us time to check out the sweet treats and taste a few samples before the tour. I think almost everyone left with their sweet tooth satisfied and a few extra pieces to snack on later in the week. A couple of individuals were hired on the spot to display their chocolate making skills. (Walt Seaton)/(Betty Ludlow). They now know how to keep busy in their retirement years.

From there we took the scenic route to the Wrigley Mansion through the grounds of the Biltmore Resort where we saw a few old cars in the parking lot with “For Sale” signs on them. Most if not all were out of our price range but there were many onlookers checking them out with some taking one or two home before the day was over.

We enjoyed lunch in Mr. Wrigley’s old bedroom which was large enough to fit us all in, then toured from the opulent entrance way to the servant’s quarters. The Wrigley’s only lived there for about 6 weeks a year as this was there smallest home and was not air conditioned. The bathrooms still display the beautiful Catalina Island ceramic tile custom made for them. Wrigley owned 99% of Catalina Island and needed to find employment for the 1% of the individuals still living in the small village that he did not own. He started a ceramics factory there to help the economy flourish. Where are these men to be found today, to jump start the economy? Did you know Wrigley started out just giving away a stick of gum if you bought a piece of his soap? The Mansion passed through many hands before the Hormels, famous for meat packing, purchased it and turned it into a private club with membership only $10 per year, donated to charity. Thus making it open for all to enjoy. Their heirs still own and keep this treasure in our backyard in magnificent condition with most of the original woodwork and fixtures in place.

We even had the sweet pleasure of listening to George Gershwin tapping on the ivories of a beautiful Steinway in the living room of the Wrigley Mansion. This was the same piano that Liberace once offered a blank check to Mr. Hormel the current owner to sell. He said no way as this was part of the history of the Mansion and would forever stay in this favorite resting spot.

I guess it can be summed up with “We shared a wonderful day with colleagues and friends while enjoying one of the great historical places in the valley.”

Story Submitted by: Barry McNeill, participant

My party and I arrived at the Tempe Library at about 8:20 and the bus was just about full; we got the three seats in the back.  Nancy, who was sitting just in front of us, wondered how soon you had to arrive to get a seat in the front of the bus.  There were about forty of us and after a few brief intros by the bus driver and Bill Stasi we set off for the candy factory right on time.

It took about an hour to drive over to the chocolate factory in Glendale and that gave us twenty to thirty minutes to wander around the store and observe all there was to see.  The building had been an old Safeway store and was mostly open with pipes and stuff going here and there.  There was a store selling their candy in the front with the factory spread out behind.  It was not too long before we stopped looking and started filling our baskets with chocolate creams, toffee, etc.  If you bought enough you got a candy apple!

The tour started about 10:00.  We all stood on one side of a long counter that ran from the front of the building to the back.  The presenter walked up and down on the other side and explained a bit about the company and how some of the chocolates are made.  It seems there is a lot of banging required to get the air out of the candy.  There certainly was plenty of thumping and banging during the presentation.  Several people got a chance to fill a mold and them bang it.  We all had a chance to wrap a piece of candy (and then unwrap and eat it).  My dark chocolate boot was quite tasty.

After the tour we re-boarded our bus and headed for the Wrigley Mansion.  We took the scenic route through the Biltmore where we saw rows of fancy cars being shown.  It is a pretty narrow and steep road up to the mansion but the bus managed with no problem and we got off with a wonderful view of Camelback Mountain.  The view of South Mountain was not quite as wonderful due to the haze in the air.

We were all herded upstairs to our lunch room where there were four large round tables set up for our lunch.  We had two severs, one for the drinks and one for the food.  Considering the tightness of the fit in the room they did a remarkably good job.  There were a couple of people who had to wait some for their meal and dessert.  I got two desserts because of the wait!

After lunch we were given a brief history of the mansion and of the two well-known owners Wrigley and Hormel.  We then toured the second floor bedrooms; the hallway with a number of historic pictures and newspaper articles and ended up in the great room on the first floor.  As in the entrance, the ceiling in the great room had extensive hand painted decorations.  The room also had a Steinway player piano with piano player rolls by Gershwin playing Gershwin.

We got back to the Tempe Library about 3:00 and I think everyone felt they had had a very enjoyable experience.  I still had my candy apple to look forward to!

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