Zelienople candy shop offers a chance to take a step back in time
Since 1933, Baldinger's Foods from all Nations has catered to generations of candy lovers.
And Betty Sabo, former manager, has shared 61 years of connecting sugar and smiles.
Few who shop at the Zelienople store have the will power to come out empty handed. While shelves, bins, boxes and cartons contain candy, they also hold flashes of memories from childhood. Name the candy of your younger years, and Sabo can point you to it.
“Mrs. B. loved the kids,” Sabo, 85, remembered. “When they came in, she'd give them a big bag of junk toys. Then, she used to give every kid a stuffed Snoopy.”
It was always Dorothy Baldinger's dream to own a business, so on 10 acres of family land, she built a fruit stand and sold products from local farmers. Soon, she added honey to the mix. In 10 or 15 years, candy and imported food items were the focus.
“We had bulk candy in boxes, open cases and barrels,” said Sabo of Zelienople. “We sold maple syrup, loose sauerkraut, honey and dill pickles.”
They also offered smoked hams, sausages and bacon as well as homemade pies. On the more exotic side, they sold canned alligator meat, lamb's tongue, pig's feet and ham hocks.
If customers desired an item from a foreign country, Baldinger wrote the consul general to find out how to stock her shelves. As her connections grew, so did her inventory.
Jan Kreuer, 67, of Zelienople, still shops at Baldinger's.
“It's the environment and the history I have with the store,” she said. “They have a lot of things that a Giant Eagle doesn't have.”
A baker, Kreuer browsed the large collection of cookie cutters. Baldinger's also offers colored sugar sprinkles to top the treats fresh from the oven.
Her daughter, Jill Kreuer, 41, brought her son, Ben Schusser, 6, when they visited from their home in Vienna, Austria.
“Gummy is king,” said Kreuer, of her son's favorite sweet.
Jennifer Bornes, 37, of Zelienople, recalled her family's trips to Pymatuning State Park when she was a child.
“On our way to Pymatuning, we'd stop here,” she said.
Now, she and her daughters, Rachel, 4, and Melanie, 6, live within walking distance.
Melanie's eyes lit up when she saw the tiny mint chocolate chips.
“It's nice to be so close,” her mother said.
Laura McKeever brought her sons, Ian, 12, Jimmy, 7, and Johnny, 10, in to shop while they were visiting their grandmother Janice McKeever. Even a trip from California wouldn't be complete without a trip to the candy store.
Sabo has watched some of the favorite candies move in and out of popularity.
“The red Mexican Hats are now Fiesta Hats,” she said. “Jujyfruits and Jujube candies were brought back, but the gourmet and anise mints are gone.”
Clove, Beemans and Black Jack chewing gums have made a return, along with candy buttons. Amazingly, candy cigarettes still are sold but in generic-looking packs.
Pat Boylan, the new owner, took great pride in making the new location look much like the old one, including the butcher block table and the antique register that is 140 to 145 years old. Boylan requested Sabo stay on and manage. Today, that task is handled by Jean Zajacs.
While Baldinger's focus on penny candy has shifted, customers can still buy in bulk and get a great deal on treats from their past. What keeps the store going?
“The merchandise and the help,” said Sabo. “We have customers from all over the world.”
Dona S. Dreeland is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6353 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Butler community college opens 4-year degree options
- Hotel anchors Village of Cranberry Woods development plan
- With usage shrinking, Butler County senior centers ponder changes
- City of Butler to lift summer concert alcohol ban
- Controller withholds housing agency check
- Butler County authority: O’Malley’s leave from agency must remain confidential
- Butler County commissioner calls for disclosure into why housing director on paid leave
- High-water threat feared in low-lying area