The Sweetest Place in La Grange

There’s a real Katy behind KatySweet

KatySweet started—like so many food companies—in the founder’s home kitchen. Company founder Kay Carlton started KatySweet Confectioners in 1996 with a recipe passed down from her grandmother to her mother to her. Kay spent several years developing the recipe for the commercial market without sacrificing the homemade taste.

KatySweet pralines © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

KatySweet Confectioners started in their founder’s home kitchen, like so many other food companies. Kay Carlton, the “Katy” behind KatySweet (and the little girl in their logo, created by her son), started the company with a candy recipe for Texas-style pecan pralines that was passed down from the grandmother.

KatySweet pralines © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In her family, it was always called ‘Aunt Billie’s Brown Candy.” She came from a family of seven children so they didn’t buy anything that they could make themselves which is something that a lot of local families had in common back then. Kay suspects that this need to be self-supporting is part of the reason why so many local families had their versions of the pecan praline. On each special occasion and on holidays, Kay found herself making several batches of her family’s version of creamy pecan pralines for her friends and family members.

Related article: Pecan Pralines a Sweet Tradition

KatySweet pralines © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Mrs. Carlton and her husband already owned a successful printing and manufacturing business and finally, in 1995, Kay decided to combine her love of business with her love of candy and founded KatySweet.

In 2001, Kay built a new commercial kitchen at their current location at 4321 West State Highway 71 in La Grange designed from the ground up to produce the original family recipes using Kay’s time-tested methods. In 2016, they added a 24,000-square-foot facility to meet current and future production demands.

KatySweet pralines © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The KatySweet distribution network includes retail and wholesale customers nationwide. The company’s national distribution is what they have been able to grow on. They deliver to nearly 5,000 locations throughout the United States.

KatySweet has big supporters in all the Southern states, Michigan, Wisconsin, Chicago, and even Hawaii and Alaska. Their maple walnut flavor is a hit in the New England areas like Vermont and New Hampshire. In 2018 alone, KatySweet sold over 300,000 pounds of candy, two ounces at a time. They’ve been fortunate to distribute their candy through Walgreens and CVS, which gives them a big footprint. They also distribute through regional grocery stores.

KatySweet pralines © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Kate and her team spent several years perfecting their recipes. Their proprietary manufacturing methods allow them to make their candy without losing the homemade taste and quality that got them started.

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To master a large-scale version of the recipe, Kay attended numerous candy stores when she first started. It’s not simply ‘I need ten times a much so I’ll multiply everything by ten. It doesn’t work like that. KatySweet uses a two-part process which is quite common. The tricky part is the caramelization.

KatySweet pralines © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

They continue to use the best ingredients to make Kay’s recipes without losing the homemade taste and quality that got them started. And they do it all without using chemicals and preservatives. When customers bite into one of their Creamy Original Pralines or Chewy Pralines they taste the finest ingredients and the care that goes into making every piece.

Their candy is even gluten-free and “kosher.” A rabbi comes from Houston every three months to inspect the premises and process. They also have a “no sugar added” variety. KatySweet is always trying to create fresh, new products to appeal to a larger crowd.

KatySweet pralines © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Kay has learned after achieving so much success and having to expand and move into bigger facilities a few times, that it’s important to plan where she can.

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Her pralines are some of the few natural products on the candy market today. Using a two-kettle method to achieve a creamy praline, you’ll never get a dry, gritty taste when you bite into a KatySweet Praline. And, KatySweet candy is made to order, so it’s always fresh.

KatySweet pralines © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What a great ready-to-give treat! Choose your favorite flavor from the 2 oz. Original Creamy, Texas Style Chewy, or No Sugar Added Chewy Praline. Six candies in a see-through gift box.

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Texas Spoken Friendly

Worth Pondering…

I make a mean pecan pie and I have a great recipe for pralines—also using pecans. Pralines take a lot of patience, and patience is a must in the duck blind as well as in the kitchen. Good things come to those who wait.

—Phil Robertson