June is National Candy Month and Ohio has contributed to dentist visits since before the Civil War! From producing international brands such as Dum Dums lollipops to small town fudge shops, these businesses put a smile on the faces of kids of all ages.
As we start venturing out and exploring our state more this summer, look up the local candy business on your trip and stop by to sample their famous chocolates or bring some back home for friends and family.
Many of these businesses started in someone’s kitchen or garage. Have an idea or passion that you could turn into a business? Make it happen by visiting the Secretary of State’s Business Services page. On our site you can file your new business and connect with valuable resources so that your venture can contribute to Ohio’s growing economy.
Wittich’s Candy Shop is touted as the nation's oldest family owned and operated candy shop - celebrating 181 Years in Business! Gottlieb F. Wittich emigrated from Germany in 1836 at age 17. In 1840, he started a bakery that also sold candy. For the rest of the century, even through the Civil War, Gottlieb sold candy in Circleville. Janet Wittich is now the fourth generation of the family to own the shop. Her late husband, Fred, was Gottleib's great-grandson.
While still making old-fashioned candies, Wittich’s also sells hand dipped chocolates, fudge, sodas, ice cream, wedding supplies, molding supplies for homes bakers, and personalized gifts and goodies. Open six days a week, they have also provided curbside pickup during the pandemic. This "home movie" shows how they make their delicious candy.
In 1981, entrepreneur Karen McCurdy used treasured family recipes to make lollipops in her home kitchen and sell them at local markets. As demand for the treats began to grow, her neighbor Sue Lonjak started helping. Together, the two women formed M. L. McJak Corporation in 1982.
Customers loved the lollipops so much that they requested the team broaden into other types of candy. McJak was happy to oblige and started making fudge and other treats with their secret family recipes, eventually building a new candy factory in 1992 to accommodate the need for more space and more production.
McJak prides themselves on producing high quality, homemade candies for fundraising and retail at a fair price –one batch at a time. All products are made in the family-owned candy factory in Medina and the milk and butter used in the fudge come from cows cared for at Ohio dairy farms. McJak Candy Company believes in giving back to the community and donates thousands of lollipops and other products to local charities and the food bank each year.
For decades, businesses have trusted Dum Dums as the classic candy brand to say thank you to customers. With a delicious range of flavors, this iconic treat by Spangler Candy provides a fun classic treat for kids of all ages.
Spangler Candy is a family-owned private company, founded in 1906, and makes candy canes, circus peanuts, Necco Wafers, Sweethearts, Canada Mints, Bit-O-Honey and several other licensed candies! Third-generation descendants of the founders sit on the board and the company Chairman and CEO is a fourth-generation descendant.
Before the pandemic, visitors could tour the store, museum, and factory but you can still order curbside pickup until they reopen.
Fun fact: Did you know that a candy company executive named the ball-shaped lollipop candy on a stick by figuring Dum-Dums was a word any child could say?
Anthony Zanetos immigrated from Greece in 1907. His first job was as an apprentice candy maker in a local candy shop in Columbus and Anthony decided to go into business for himself in 1916 – starting something that would stay in his family for four generations and counting.
Upon returning from World War II, Thomas joined his father in 1945 to create Anthony’s Confectionary, fulfilling his father’s lifelong dream to create a father & son business. The company became possible when sugar was rationed and veterans who were in the candy business could get a 30,000-pound annual allotment of sugar.
After opening a soda shop that also served lunch and ice cream, the quality of the candy created the highest demand, so Tom and his father decided to make it a full-time trade. Using their first names, they formed the Anthony-Thomas Candy Company in 1952. Today, they are one of the largest family-owned and operated candy companies in the Midwest with more than 200 employees producing an average of 50,000 pounds of chocolates on three shifts daily.
Winans has been making candy since two brothers started their business in a historic carriage house in October 1961 and are celebrating their 60th year. However, the Winans family has been in the baking and confectionery business since the early 1900s and is now in its fifth generation of confectioners. 25 years ago, the family decided to also serve small batch roasted coffee. Today the company is known as Winans Chocolates + Coffees and has 20 retail locations known for the family-friendly environment offering premium hand-made chocolates and sustainably sourced, locally-roasted coffee, with plans for more stores in the Western and Central Ohio area.
Lesley and Wil Kline moved back to Salem, Lesley’s hometown, with their four daughters in 2015. At their previous home in Indiana, there was a small soda and ice cream place their family loved to go to because there was “something about the soda counter that just slowed down time and made you really take notice of the people around you.” Kast Iron Soda was started for their local community to have a place to hang out and relax with old and new friends.
Opening just last month in downtown Salem, they sell old fashioned candy, but their “liquid candy” is their passion, including 380 varieties in bottles, plus specialty sodas, handmade root beer, and floats.
Wil was an officer in the U.S. Army, a banker, and a financial advisor, but this is his and Lesley’s first business venture. Best of luck!
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