Thursday, March 25, 2010

Schmidt's Candy in Woodhaven...The Sweet Lowdown by Lisa L. Colangelo - NY Daily News

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A visit to Schmidt's Candies in Woodhaven can be an exercise in self-restraint for anyone with even half a sweet-tooth.

There are large glass jars full of colorful jelly beans, licorice, gummy bears and fruit slices.

Old-fashioned wooden display cases at the store, on Jamaica Ave., hold trays of hand-dipped chocolates filled with fruits, nuts, jellies and marshmallows.

Visitors get a warm greeting from Margie Schmidt, whose grandfather, Frank, opened the store more than 80 years ago. Chances are she'll be dressed in work clothes decorated with splatters of chocolate.

Schmidt is in the middle of her busiest season, which stretches from Valentine's Day to Easter. Customers drop in, call or place orders on the store's Web site

But there are no machines to boost production in this mini chocolate factory. Schmidt herself, along with a small band of helpers, melts and hand-dips the chocolates.

They are placed on wooden drying racks that she estimates are almost 80 years old. "They work," she said. "Almost everything here is original."

In the basement, Schmidt makes customer favorites like butter-crunch and ribbon candy on marble-topped tables that her grandfather, better known as "Boss," used.

"We all worked here as kids," said Schmidt, who took over the business from her father - also named Frank - in the 1980s. "But, at the beginning, all I was allowed to do was clip and unclip the molds."

Those molds, some of which date back to the 1920s and 1930s, are key to shop's intricately-decorated chocolate bunnies, eggs, kewpie dolls and others.

"Look at that detail," Schmidt said, after opening up a Easter lamb mold that hours ago had been filled with gooey molten chocolate. "Isn't that beautiful?"