Father of the praline – Stan Strickland of River Street Sweets, Savannah’s Candy Kitchen – dies

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Credit: Josh Galemore, Savannah Morning News

Credit: Josh Galemore, Savannah Morning News

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Credit: Will Peebles

Credit: Will Peebles

Savannah has mourned the loss of a fixture of River Street this week.

Stan Strickland, owner of River Street Sweets and Savannah's Candy Kitchen for over 40 years, died on Sunday. He was 78.

Strickland started River Street Sweets in 1972 with his ex-wife Pam, first as a small gift shop and then expanding into the half-block-long store known today. In a 2015 article in the Savannah Morning News, Strickland said they attended the Atlanta Gift Show, which generated ideas for a variety of candy recipes with one of the concepts leading to their most well-known product –– the praline.

"We started looking for different recipes of candies that we could make - Pam would read something, and I'd try to make it," Stan said in 2015. "And one night we stumbled on something that worked."

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Credit: File photo / SavannahNow.com

Credit: File photo / SavannahNow.com

When the Stricklands divorced in 1990, Stan started Savannah's Candy Kitchen. In 2014, after 25 years apart, the two companies reunited again and expanded across the Southeast with stores in Nashville, Atlanta and Charleston among others.

“We started together 41 years ago and now we’re able to come full circle and offer what we all love doing — making authentic Southern candy," Strickland said in 2014.

"Savannah's Candy Kitchen will always be a strong brand, and River Street Sweets is a really strong brand," said Stan and Pam Strickland's daughter, Jennifer, in 2015. "But as we move forward, we're going to offer franchises together because we know that together, we're stronger than we are individually."

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Credit: Steve Bisson/savannahnow.com

Credit: Steve Bisson/savannahnow.com

Outside of the candy business, an obituary from Savannah's Waterfront lists that Strickland as an avid fisherman, even rumored to be a fishing partner to author Ernest Hemingway at a time. "With a boundless competitive spirit, he teased and tormented dozens of his family of fishing buddies with his relentless pursuit of virtually every sport fish in the ocean…. the ocean he loved so passionately," the obituary reads.

"The most peaceful and spiritual moments of his life were shared with (his wife) Tonya and (son) Rhett aboard the Mojito, enjoying the wonders the ocean held, sprinkled with dazzling stars, sunsets, and moonrises."

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Credit: John Carrington / Savannah Morning News

Credit: John Carrington / Savannah Morning News

Strickland is survived by his wife, Tonya; children, Rhett; Tim and Jennifer; his grandchildren, Joelle, Willie, Louis and Olivia; his sister, Jean Sedgwick, and his brother and sister in-law, Debbie and Darren Hollingsworth.

Zach Dennis is the editor of the arts and culture section and weekly Do Savannah alt-weekly publication at the Savannah Morning News and can be reached at zdennis@savannahnow.com.

This article originally appeared on Savannah Morning News: Father of the praline – Stan Strickland of River Street Sweets, Savannah’s Candy Kitchen – dies