photographs by Jane Schneider
Kids love seeing how things are made. And in our mechanized world, it’s refreshing to realize there are some products still made by hand. Take, for example, the gooey goodness of Dinstuhl’s chocolate-covered strawberries. These juicy little gems, one of the candy maker’s most popular temptations, are still individually hand-dipped before traveling via conveyor belt through a curtain of chocolate.
“We only use fresh ingredients,” points out President Rebecca Dinstuhl, as we watch two men lower the berries into a vat of fondant. “And the sugar fondant is made from scratch.” Since they use no preservatives, store managers closely monitor the candy sell dates in their three stores.
In another corner of the kitchen, an employee hand-rolls a mixture of pecans and chocolate, stirring and mounding the batter until the consistency is just right for making pecan clusters. The candies are then lined up on a baking sheet to cool and harden before being packaged and delivered to Macy’s at Oak Court Mall, a new outlet for the company.
Dinstuhl’s has been producing candy here since 1902, selling roughly 300,000 pounds of confections each year. Not much has changed since Gene “Pop” Dinstuhl worked in the kitchen years ago. If you’ve ever enjoyed their cashew crunch, you have to him to thank. He modified the recipe, given to him by a retiring candy maker from upstate New York in the 1950s, and “Now it’s one of our signature items,” says Dinstuhl. Molded chocolates for companies and weddings are also big sellers.
Take the 20-minute tour, and you’ll learn other things too, like where cocoa beans grow and how chocolate is processed before being shipped to chocolatiers across the U.S. It’s an interesting afternoon outing, and with a little something sweet to take home, a trip your kids won’t soon forget.