Pamela Robinson - Owner & Executive ConfectionerTodd Robinson - Operations & Support
Pamela was a single mom raising 3 boys. She was known in her community for her creative "optical illusion" specialty cakes, elegant multi-tiered wedding cakes, and decorative cookies. Over the years, many people had told her that with her creative culinary talents she should go into business, but she'd never had the vehicle to do it.
Todd was a widower with 4 grown daughters. He was a long-time entrepreneur who had launched a Silicon Valley media agency and a CGI software company during the dot-com boom, started a motorcycle racetrack school running events in California and Nevada training thousands of riders, and a motorsports business that after 17 years was struggling to survive the tariff wars and collapse of the motorsports parts industry.
They met in 2017 and were instantly inseparable, marrying the following year. Motorcycles had been a life-long passion for Todd, and Pamela had always wanted to ride. So it was only natural that Todd proposed to Pamela with a key to a Kawasaki Ninja 300 sportbike as an engagement gift on the rocks on the beach in Pacific City, Oregon. She was going to say yes anyhow...but this certainly sweetened the proposal offer.
Blending their families with one young son still at home with them, they settled into a very happy life together. Their days were filled with laughter and love, and motorcycle rides, with Pamela's terrible puns and even worse dad jokes softening Todd's more serious demeanor.
Pamela had left her career in supply chain and inventory to come work with Todd at his parts business, but knew she wanted to use her culinary skills to bring in extra money as she saw Todd stressed over the struggles in his business and suffering from chronic migraines. She suggested making and selling soft peanut brittle, a popular known delicacy in the Inland Northwest, as she and her mother had for years made it to give away at Christmas. Todd researched the gourmet confections market space for her, and found it was a good opportunity for them to let Pamela pursue her passion while making extra money.
THE STARTUP PHASE:
Pamela launched Robinson Soft Brittle in summer 2019 with some startup help from her parents, with Todd providing business advice and operational support. They did their first public event that July with a group called "CDA Makers" which hosts local artisan marketplace events, and were overwhelmed with the response, selling almost all the candy they'd brought in just 3 hours. This was also where Pamela first met Stephen Granat (Abide Culture Coffee), a local small batch specialty coffee roaster, whose coffee would be used in their Triple Chocolate Hazelnut Espresso Bark™ ("Nicaragua" roast) Caramel Macchiato Bark™ ("Peru" roast), and Java 72 Dark™ couverture-grade dark chocolate (Peru Roast). This was followed by the Coeur d'Alene Downtown Street Fair/Art on the Green and the Schweitzer Fall Fest at Schweitzer Mountain Ski Resort. At this event, although bringing several hundred pounds of soft peanut brittle, they sold out so quickly that Pamela and one of Todd's daughters had to pull an all-nighter cooking candy right in the middle of the festival to make enough candy to finish the weekend. Clearly, they were on to something big.
GROWING & OVERCOMING CHALLENGES:
The next step was creating their first original recipe creation: Chocolate Hazelnut Soft Brittle™. This came about because Todd's youngest daughter wasn't a big peanut fan but was fanatical about Nutella® spread. After dozen upon dozen of failed attempts they finally had a breakthrough and a delicious original creation...although it took over fifteen months to truly perfect the process. That was followed by several unique chocolate bark creations. Todd then suggested using Apple Brandy in English Toffee since Pamela was toying with the idea of adding toffee flavors, and thus their line of original liqueur-based toffee creations was launched to dramatic success.
Like most small businesses, they were hit hard by the 2020 pandemic and response. But by the grace of God and outpouring of support from family, friends, and their community, the business survived. During this time they also branched out into selling to retailers and grew their corporate gifting and online presence. They now have retailers in several parts of the Pacific Northwest and have shipped to all 50 states and more than a dozen countries.
They now offer multiple variants of soft brittle (including 2 original creations), 6 types of specialty Belgian chocolate bark (including the 2 original coffee-based creations mentioned above, plus 4 original recipes), and their original creation line of 6 liqueur-based English Toffees. They have also launched a line of top-tier couverture grade dark chocolates ("couverture" is the top grade of chocolate available in the world).
It is Pamela's dream to some day be featured in upscale kitchen stores and specialty food shops across the entire country.
In 2021 their Mexican Hot Chocolate won Gold, Bronze, and two honorable mentions (Best Spicy Chocolate) at the International Chocolate Salon.
In 2022 their Nutty Irishman Toffee won Gold, Bronze, and two honorable mentions (Top Artisan Toffee) their Caramel Macchiato won two Bronze awards and two honorable mentions (Best White Chocolate), their White Russian Toffee garnered two honorable mentions (Top Artisan Toffee), and their "Java 72 Dark" received an honorable mention (Best Dark Chocolate Bar).
A word from Pamela Robinson:
"We are so appreciative for the overwhelming response to our confections and the opportunity to do something we love that brings joy to people. This is our "why"...and we get to do it every day.By buying our award-winning confections, you are directly supporting a family owned and operated small business, where we in turn spend our money at our local businesses and invest back into our community.
But in the end, our story is about how we can be a part of YOUR story...how we can make your life just a little bit better. Whether you’re sharing our candy with someone as a gift, received it as a gift, or are just enjoying a moment of true bliss with our confections, we are thankful that what we do here ultimately enriches your life."
Robinson Soft Brittle: Proudly made in Idaho