MYNORTHWEST HISTORY

Iconic Almond Roca neon sign in Tacoma to be replaced

Jul 18, 2023, 9:55 AM | Updated: 11:32 am

almond roca sign replaced...

The original Almond Roca neon sign and clock in Tacoma has been taken down and will be replaced. (Feliks Banel/KIRO Newsradio)

(Feliks Banel/KIRO Newsradio)

The classic neon “Almond Roca” sign and clock, which has cast a warm glow over E 26th Street alongside the Brown & Haley candy factory in Tacoma, has reached the end of its useful life and will be replaced with a replica, according to a company spokesperson.

Kathi Rennaker, director of marketing for Brown & Haley, told KIRO Newsradio early Tuesday that the original and much-beloved sign, which is at least 80 years old, has been restored a few times in the past, including as recently as 18 or 19 years ago.


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“They powder coated it to try and seal it in, [but] elements are going to wear that metal down,” Rennaker said, referring to the tin structural components of the sign, which is often referred to as the “can.”

“And that’s what has happened,” Rennaker continued. “The concern is that the tin had gotten way too thin.”

Workers from a local neon company took down the sign earlier this month in order to assess whether it could be restored again in time for a September celebration marking the centennial of Almond Roca. Rennaker says one option was replacing roughly 95% of the sign with new components or building an entirely new replica using traditional neon tubes.

Brown & Haley, longtime Tacoma-based makers of Almond Roca and Mountain Bars, went with the latter option.

“We’ll make a new one so that it’ll last another 100 years up on the side of the building,” Rennaker said.

As for what will become of the original sign, Rennaker says it still works just fine, and nothing has been decided yet about its future home.

“The plan is to lend it out to museums,” Rennaker said. “Now, obviously, we just found out the real condition of the sign within the last week and a half. We haven’t formalized anything with any installation yet” for the original sign at any specific museum or other location.

Brown & Haley plans to mark the centennial of Almond Roca – a kind of chocolate and nut-covered toffee – with events and special promotional activities in September. Rennaker says hopes are for the new sign to be ready in time to be installed and formally dedicated as part of the celebration.

“What we’d like to do is a huge unveiling,” Reannaker said. “Cover up the sign, take it off, and light up that neon for everybody to come to see it and get their picture taken with the sign and help us celebrate the 100th birthday of Almond Roca at the same time, too.”

You can hear Feliks every Wednesday and Friday morning on Seattle’s Morning News with Dave Ross and Colleen O’Brien, read more from him here, and subscribe to The Resident Historian Podcast here. If you have a story idea, please email Feliks here.

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