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Candy history will be focus of Mt. Pleasant events

Linda Harkcom | For The Mt. Pleasant Journal
Brown's Candy Kitchen dippers Jo Graft of North Huntington (left) and Marie Sofranko of Mt. Pleasant make milk chocolate Easter bunnies on Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013. Graft and Sofranko have worked as a dippers at the company 22 years and 25 years, respectively.

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Wednesday, March 6, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

There will be a lot of sweet talk during the next two weekends at the Mt. Pleasant Public Library.

“Let's Talk Candy” is the first installment of the “Let's Talk History with Cassandra Vivian” series for 2013. The event will take place 10:30 a.m. to noon Saturday.

Vivian, a Mt. Pleasant resident, said candy is almost as big a story in the region as is coal, coke and glass.

“Candy is another great regional story,” she said. “In Mt. Pleasant I know of two candy companies ... there may be more,” she said.

Dozens of candy makers existed in a number of area towns, Vivian said.

“Most of the candy companies were (established) by families. What I want to know is how did the families get into the candy business to begin with? Who taught them to make candy?” she asked.

Saturday's discussion will cover local businesses including Candyland, Brown's Candy Kitchen, Sib's Sweet Shop, Redstone, Gene and Boots, and any other candy stores attendees can remember.

This spring, Brown's Candy Kitchen will mark 62 years operating from the same location at 36 W. Main St. in Mt. Pleasant. The store is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Owner Rose Keefer said what sets the company apart from others, and adds to its longevity, is that they still make the candy the same way as they did when the company first started.

“We still cook our centers and everything is hand dipped,” Keefer said. “In fact, we are still using the same molds that they used back then. We try to stick to tradition. People like to buy the same ones over and over again.”

Keefer said she hopes to locate photos from the company's archives to share with the “Let's Talk History” group.

Vivian said all are invited to attend the discussion for which she serves as moderator.

“Of course, anyone who is interested in the topic is welcome, but I would like to hear from the candy makers themselves,” she said. “I hope people will bring old stories, old photos, even a recipe or two or a taste or two.”

At 10:30 a.m. March 16, the library will welcome speaker Joshua Skully, who will talk about one of the nation's most successive chocolatiers and confectioners, David L. Clark.

Clark, an Irish–born immigrant, established the D.L. Clark Company and helped pioneer various types of candy throughout the early 20th century, including the popular Clark Bar and Zagnut candy bars.

“Generally, people are surprised to see just how successful the D.L. Clark Company was and to realize that, for many years, it was one of our nation's giants of the candy and chocolate industry, right alongside companies that have remained powerful in that area, such as Hershey's,” said Skully, 26, of Uniontown. “Usually, some individuals are reminded of Clark products they were fond of as children but had since forgotten. That's typically something that many find interesting, as well.”

Linda Harkcom is a freelance writer.

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