House speaker buys boxes of famous toffee to give to his colleagues

Rep. Mark Ferrandino

DENVER — Colorado House Speaker Mark Ferrandino plans to raise the white flag in the so-called war on toffee.

The Denver Democrat was criticized last week when he lobbed the first volley in that war by repeatedly saying he doesn’t like the confection.

That sparked Enstrom Candies to announce it wouldn’t deliver its well-known toffee to all 100 members of the Colorado Legislature today as the Grand Junction company does every Valentine’s Day.

To make up for that, Ferrandino plans to deliver $200 worth of Enstrom’s toffee to state lawmakers today, saying in a card accompanying it, “Roses are red, violets are blue. I don’t like toffee, but I hope that you do.”

Ferrandino said he never singled out Enstrom’s candy, but realized after the first scuffles in the toffee war that he had impacted a Colorado business just prior to one of its biggest selling days of the year.

“This was never meant to be an insult,” he said. “I don’t like toffee, but when I found out that everyone was going to lose their toffee, I went and bought it even though I don’t like it. There’s a tradition that they get toffee on Valentine’s Day, I want to continue that.”

Sen. Steve King, R-Grand Junction, agreed that the toffee war seems on the surface to be a silly thing to argue over, but when someone of Ferrandino’s stature in the state makes derogatory remarks about something, it can have consequences.

“It shows how much people pay attention when the president of the Senate talks or when the speaker of the House talks, or even (legislative) members and say things that they wish they could take back,” King said. “When you think about how much money (Enstrom’s) spends on advertising and you get a speaker saying something like that right before one the biggest days of their year, it’s like you just (hurt) them for I don’t know how much in advertising.”

After hearing the speaker’s first comments, Rick Enstrom, head of the company’s stores of the Front Range, announced that he would not deliver toffee to the Legislature this year, deciding instead to donate 200 pounds of it to a Denver nonprofit agency.

That announcement raised questions of whether it all was just politics. Enstrom made a failed attempt in 2012 for a seat in the Colorado House, and may try again.

“There’s some bad blood between (Rick) Enstrom and the Democratic caucus, and I think unfortunately I probably played into it,” Ferrandino said. “But I said nothing about Enstrom’s toffee, I just said I don’t like toffee no matter who makes the toffee. Their clusters and other things, I love.”


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