How did you get into the candy business?
I am a lifelong candymaker. When I was three years old I packed my suitcase and tried running away to my local variety store that had a huge selection of penny candy. Twenty five cents went a long way in the 70s! I grew up around home candymakers, too. My dad made peanut brittle and my grandma made divinity and fudge. When I was a teenager I worked my way through the Candy chapter in the Betty Crocker cookbook encyclopedia. As I grew older, baking became my hobby and favorite thing to do whenever I had time off work. In my mid-thirties I found myself moving up in a career but I wasn’t really sure how I even got there. I did some soul searching, and with the support of my husband and family, attended the French Pastry School in Chicago. It doesn’t get much more inspirational than watching master pastry chefs spin sugar ribbons and create delicious edible art.
Chicago is my home since early childhood. We have a vibrant but approachable food scene, but more importantly, Chicago has an important place in candy history. DeMet’s turtles were created here, Brachs operated here for many years, Tootsie Roll, Ferrara Pan. The list is long. In the early 1900s there were fabulous candy shops and soda fountains almost on every corner in the Loop (downtown.) My business is in the Loop in the historic DeMet’s factory where “Turtles” were created. I love the history and nostalgia, and I love being an unexpected small business in a neighborhood overrun with franchises and corporate offices. We are a welcome surprise to everyone that comes in, and our production is visible to the public, which is also really fun.
What is the most memorable feedback you have heard from your customers?
It is very gratifying to hear customers tell us that La-Dee-Dahs or S’morelicious or Wow! is their favorite candy. I have a lot of loyal, wonderful customers who have been with us since the start. It is really rewarding for me, as an individual and a business owner, to be part of the artisan food community.
Do you have a favorite candy in your catalog?
I eat a lot of candy. Too much candy. I never get tired of it. I don’t have a favorite, just depends on my mood.
What is one thing about your product/business that people are unlikely to know?
We are a tiny operation, just me and one other full-time candymaker. We have great graphic designers who created a brand that makes us seem bigger than we are. I get loads of phone calls from freight consolidators and such thinking we are a big factory. But no.
It’s your last meal on earth, what are you eating and drinking?
Plenty of IPA, fried chicken, and chocolate.