One of my favorite houses in Joplin is located downtown. However, a family doesn’t live there.
This is Candy House Gourmet, where handcrafted treats are made using recipes that locals have craved for decades.
The original location of this candy store opened in 1970 in an old rock tavern on Redings Mill Road, just south of Joplin. Back then, it was called Richardson’s Candy House, and was owned by Don and Peggy Richardson. I sampled a chocolate from here the very first time I visited Joplin in 1992, and it was love at first bite.
Over the years, ownership of the Candy House has changed, with the business actually closing for a period of time, causing sadness among its loyal customers and local chocoholics. Thankfully, it came back to life in December 2016 as Candy House Gourmet when Cara and Wayne Adolphsen (who also own Joplin’s Mizzou Aviation) purchased the business. The Adolphsens also hired its former employees, which was a smart move, considering they knew their way around the candy kitchen and were already familiar to the customers.
What are the specialties of Candy House Gourmet? The original-recipe treats include toffee, caramel pecan treats (turtles), brittle, fudge, divinity, pecan logs, and sea salt caramels – the dark chocolate ones are my favorites. Unfortunately, my kids like them, too, so I have to share (but only if they catch me before I can stash the caramels in my secret hiding place).
In addition to producing local classics, the Adolphsens have fun experimenting in the test kitchen, and have already added some new candies, including the Banana Split Cream, which is half banana, half strawberry, and topped with chopped peanuts.
In the spring, Candy House Gourmet offers chocolate-dipped strawberries and, in the fall, chocolate-covered caramel apples. These aren’t just any chocolate-covered apples; they are both inventive and HUGE!
Until this year, my favorite apple has been the Deluxe, which is drizzled with three types of chocolate, and then sprinkled with pecans. The Adolphsens have now introduced the Apple Pie flavor, as well as the Sea Salt Caramel one. Can you can guess which one is my new favorite?
Candy House Gourmet also makes gourmet popcorn in traditional flavors like Sweet Caramel Nut Corn, and new flavors like spicy Cinnamon Corn. You can buy the popcorn individually, or try a few flavors (plus some chocolates) by purchasing one of the mixed baskets from the Candy House Gourmet’s gift guide. The guide also includes customizable chocolate bars, which make fun one-of-a-kind gifts.
Do you want to see how all of these sweet treats are made? You can! Candy House Gourmet offers tours of the facility which you can arrange by calling 877-623-7171. Tours are generally available during the week, but during the busy winter holiday months the candy elves are busy filling orders, so please call before you visit.
Here are some highlights from my own group tour of Candy House Gourmet:
The first thing we saw was the Peppy Pumper, a machine that spurts out chocolate from a faucet which is used to fill different shaped molds, such as eggs at Easter and the very popular “brain” mold sold at Halloween time.
Next we saw the enrober, where items such as Oreos get bathed in chocolate and then take a slow ride down a conveyor belt through an air-cooled tunnel where they emerge cloaked in hardened chocolate 13 minutes later.
We saw an actual dried cocoa pod,
as well as cocoa beans and powder, plus a crate of ten-pound chocolate bars that they melt and use in their recipes. Each crate holds 2000 pounds of chocolate!
The kitchen is where all of the candy centers (such as caramel) are made. When production was at the Redings Mill location, a granite-slab table was used in the caramel-making process, but they were making so much of it that the granite wasn’t getting time to cool and the caramel was sticking to it. Now, they use these fancy water-jacketed tables, where cool water below the table surface keeps the caramel from sticking.
A table of caramel – I want this in my dining room!
Are you salivating yet? Me, too.
I know I speak for many Joplinites when I say how grateful I am to the Adolphsens for resurrecting this Joplin institution – for bringing back our favorite candies and for introducing us to new favorites.
*For people with food allergies, please be aware that Candy House Gourmet is filled with food allergens, such as nuts and dairy, and all of their items are labeled accordingly. If you have a peanut allergy, you might appreciate knowing that, while all of the products share the same equipment, all of the peanut products are run at the very end of the day and the equipment is cleaned immediately afterwards, which reduces the risk of contact.
To read more about my adventures in the area, visit JoplinMOLife.com.