Chocolate in "Rūta"
History of RŪTA
In 1913, Antanas Gricevičius established Rūta, a tiny candy workshop, at the age of 36. As foreigners owned most of the companies in Lithuania at that time, Mr Gricevičius called the candy workshop, Rūta, after a plant found in Lithuania (Rue), in a bid to highlight its national character.
Prior to establishing his own workshop, Mr Gricevičius had worked at the Viktorija candy factory in Vilnius for sixteen years, where he gained valuable experience in candy production. It was his dream to one day have his own candy workshop.
Mr Gricevičius and his wife, Juzefa, produced the first Rūta candies in a small wooden house located in the grounds of the present-day factory. The first assortment consisted of caramel candies, which were soon followed by chocolate ones. Antanas had a natural gift for creating new recipes. He was brilliant at combining chocolate with other products and creating new flavours. His products won four gold medals at Lithuanian agriculture exhibitions and two medals at international competitions held in Italy and England.
The First World War devastated the Rūta candy workshop and production was suspended. Antanas used those dark days for his professional development. He and his family escaped to Saint Petersburg, where he graduated in confectionery studies. Together with a few Russian businessmen he became a co-owner of a candy workshop.
In the First Republic, there were many candy-producing companies both in Šiauliai and elsewhere in the country and it was hard to compete with them. However, Rūta gradually established a reputation for itself and, by the 1930s, the factory had more than 100 employees and produced around 300 different types of candy. In 1929, Mr Gricevičius built a new factory with shop premises to the design of the famous architect, Kārlis Reisons. Since 2012, the building has been a museum.
During the Soviet occupation, Rūta was nationalised in 1940, and Mr Gricevičius was accused of embezzling the company’s funds and brought before a court. He was acquitted of all charges after Rūta employees testified on his behalf. When people of the country began to be exiled to Siberia, Mr Gricevičius and his daughter Marija were lucky to avoid being exiled, while his wife, Juzefa, and youngest son, Antanas, were exiled to Siberia. His grown-up children, Janina and Vladas, left the country.
Having lost his factory, Mr. Gricevičius longed for it, and sometimes produced candy at home, on the outskirts of the city. He died at the age of 72, on the Christmas Eve.
During the Second World War, Šiauliai was devastated, and the buildings of the Rūta candy factory were bombed and set on fire. Legend has it that a fire destroyed 80 tons of sugar, and people were seen carrying lumps of brown sugar to their homes for quite a long time.
During Soviet times, Rūta, along with other candy factories, produced candies according to standardised recipes approved by the Soviet Union. There were some exceptional cases when recipes devised by the company’s specialists were approved by a special institution in Moscow. This was why Rūta products were not particularly unique during Soviet times.
At the end of 1993, ownership of the Rūta candy factory was returned to the actual owners –the son and granddaughters of Mr Gricevičius. They revived the old traditions of candy production and Rūta once again became a factory producing unique and original confectionery in Lithuania.
The newly-born Rūta gives preference to natural, organic and local raw materials. Strawberries, blackcurrants, buckthorn and squashes grown in Lithuania, as well as many other Lithuanian and exotic fruits, vegetables and berries, nectar and pollen, honey and nuts are transformed into the tastiest of fillings and coated with the dark, white or milk chocolate in the Rūta factory.
Rūta is the oldest operating candy factory in Lithuania. Currently, it offers a wide range of confectionery products, such as chocolates with various types of filling, dragées, whipped cream and jelly candies, chocolate truffles, chocolate sculptures, as well as sugar-free, organic, heritage and other products. Knowledge, skills and passion are the three key elements that have accompanied Rūta from the very beginning and have ensured that its products are widely-known and appreciated among sweet lovers.