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They’re sweet on the Cape: Who needs Wonka when you’ve got caramels with local sea salt and freeze-dried Skittles?

Chatham Candy Manor was launched in 1955 and is still going strong — year ‘round.Diane Bair

No disrespect to ice cream and lobster rolls — as vacation fare goes, they’re pretty swell — but there’s something special about walking into a candy shop and inhaling the sweet scent. Suddenly, you’re a kid again, clutching your allowance and lunging toward a display case filled with sticky deliciousness. Below are some of our favorite places to capture that feeling on the Cape, places where they don’t just sell candy, they make it.

Note that these candy stores aren’t bean-to-bar operations; rather, they work with premium chocolate companies, who produce custom blends for the shops to use to create chocolates using their own recipes.

Ghelfi’s Candies, Falmouth and Mashpee

Three generations of Ghelfis have been making candy for 37 years and counting. Now, Scott Ghelfi is steering this candy-coated ship, with locations in downtown Falmouth and at Mashpee Commons. Their candy kitchen is in Falmouth, in the back of the retail shop. How beloved is their chocolate? “One family asked me to make a tin of their deceased mom’s favorite chocolates. They buried it in the casket with her,” Ghelfi says. Talk about a sweet hereafter!

What’s homemade: “We make all of our fudges, brittles, mints, and most chocolates: creams, caramels, nut clusters, turtles, barks, nonpareils, cherry cordials, and more,” Ghelfi says.

Specialty of the house: “I would rate our caramels as the best anywhere,” he says. Sea salt caramels and turtles are top sellers. Kids go straight to the shelf of gummy candies.

Welcome to the family: Employees have become honorary Ghelfis over the years. “I now have kids and grandkids of former employees working for me,” Ghelfi says.

This is a dream job because: Seeing Ghelfi’s Candies become a tradition of families on the Cape. “Vacations, holidays, important events — we’ve become part of that.” And it’s the perfect job for a chocolate lover. “I am not sick of chocolate. In fact, I am addicted!” Ghelfi confesses.


Sweet deets: 228 Main St., Falmouth, 800-645-1475; https://shipchocolates.net.

Adults love Ghelfi’s caramels and turtles. Kids go straight for the gummy candies, says Scott Ghelfi.Diane Bair

Chatham Candy Manor, Chatham

Chatham native Robbie Carroll tried clamming, but discovered candy making was more fun (not to mention, indoors). Perhaps his mother, Susan Carroll, put in a good word for him at her workplace, Chatham Candy Manor, a business launched by Naomi Louise Turner in 1955. Robbie Carroll and Paige Piper, his wife, purchased the Candy Manor in 2019 and keep the old copper kettle bubbling with fudge, cream, and caramel. Mom still works there, by the way — for some 50 years and counting.

How good is this chocolate? Some of our favorite Brooklynites — no strangers to artisan everything — make regular pilgrimages to Chatham Candy Manor. Plus, the shop uses locally-produced elements, such as cranberries and sea salt, in their products. “We work hard to be a year-round business to be sustainable for our staff and community,” Piper says. They operate a production facility in Portland, Maine.

What’s homemade: Fudge and chocolates. Sugar-free and nut-free confections, and a few specialty items, come from other vendors. “We hand-dip the chocolates in our kitchen,” Piper says.

Specialty of the house: Sea salt caramels and fudge. Fudge flavors change with the seasons.

Kids’ pick: Chocolate-covered gummy bears are having a moment. (Grown-up writer’s opinion: Unexpectedly awesome.)

This is a dream job because: “The Candy Manor is a joyful part of people’s memories. Generations of people come back with their kids and grandkids, sharing a special treat with special people. It doesn’t get better than that.”


Sweet deets: 484 Main St., Chatham, 508-945-0825; https://candymanor.com.

Stage Stop Candy looks homey on the outside; inside, it’s a haven for sweet-toothed souls of all ages.Diane Bair

Stage Stop Candy, Dennis Port

In some families, chocolate flows through the veins like blood. So it is with Josh Fedele, owner and candymaker at Stage Stop Candy. His parents own Fedele’s Chocolates in Pembroke and Plymouth. (Fun fact: Stage Stop’s founder was Ray Hebert, grandson of Frederick Hebert, who launched Hebert’s Candies in Shrewsbury.) Josh Fedele and his wife, Mandi, run the shop now alongside their kids Stevie and Beki.

What’s homemade: Nearly everything they sell in the shop — fudge, peanut butter cups, creams, mints, caramels, turtles, toffees, jellies, barks, clusters, solid chocolates, and chocolate-covered Oreos, Twinkies, Devil Dogs, pretzels, and so on. While many of their recipes have their roots in the 1920s or earlier, “We enjoy the challenge of trying new, unique combinations,” Fedele says.

Specialty of the house: Customer favorites include fudge, peanut butter cups, and freeze-dried Skittles. Say what? Last year, they launched a freeze-dried candy line. “We take traditional pieces of candy and radically change them in flavor and texture,” Fedele says. “The end result is mind-blowing.” If Skittles and popcorn had a baby, it would taste like this. The freeze-dried gummy sharks got an enthusiastic thumbs-up from our 7-year-old tester, likely a key demographic.

Operating a candy shop on the Cape is: “Wonderful. It’s a close community,” Fedele says. Owning a candy store and creating confections every day is the best job in the world, he notes. “Almost everyone who enters a candy store is in a good mood and we really enjoy being a positive, happy part of a person’s day.”


Fun fact: Their candy-making production is solar-powered.

Sweet deets: 411 Main St., Dennis Port, 508-394-1791; https://stagestopcandy.com.

Hot Chocolate Sparrow in Orleans is practically on the Cape Cod Rail Trail. Reward yourself with a stop.Diane Bair

Hot Chocolate Sparrow, Orleans

How’s this for the ultimate location for a coffee/chocolate/ice cream shop — along a 22-mile bike path? Oh, you can buy something more serious here, like a mozzarella-artichoke-sundried-tomato sandwich, or a nitro iced coffee if you need a boost to finish the ride. But — chocolate is right in the name!

Marjorie Sparrow founded the company in 1989 with a simple candy store in North Eastham. Now, her kids Maya and Perry own the Hot Chocolate Sparrow, now in Orleans, with an expanded menu and a gift shop across the street. “Often we are the destination or reward after a long bike ride,” says Maya Sparrow. “We are an oasis in the middle of the bike path for a cold beverage and a sweet treat.”

What’s homemade: Chocolate bark, turtles, English toffee, truffles, peanut butter cups, chocolate-covered treats (marshmallows, Oreos, etc.) and fudge sauce.

Specialty of the house: Turtles — almonds, cashews, or pecans covered in caramel and milk or dark chocolate.

The best thing about operating a candy shop on the Cape is: “Bringing joy to people of all ages,” says Sparrow.

Fun fact: “The chocolate we use for candy making is the same chocolate we use to make our fudge sauce and fudge milk with. Chocolate really is an integral part of everything we make!”


Sweet deets: 5 Old Colony Way, Orleans, 508-240-6970; https://hotchocolatesparrow.com.

Oh, they sure know how to make kids happy at Kandy Korner! This is a big lolly for sure, but it took Ava Howarth of Marstons Mills several weeks to finish it off.Diane Bair

Cape Cod Chocolatier, Centerville

It’s a story that sounds straight from the Hallmark Channel: A culinary school graduate walks into a French bakery, gets a job as a night baker, and encounters the owners’ daughter in the kitchen. Their eyes lock across the cooling racks and, some 40 years later, Rob and Carol Cronin are making chocolates in their own shop on Cape Cod. They began in Sandwich, and ultimately moved to Centerville where they operate their candy kitchen and a retail shop.

What’s homemade: They make about 75 percent of what they sell, using imported Belgian chocolate. They tempered about 10,000 pounds of chocolate last year, Rob Cronin says. “Many of our flavor compounds are imported from Germany, as we have found them to be the best.”

Specialty of the house: Top sellers include turtles, caramels, chocolate-covered creams, and peanut butter cups. Customers snap up sand dollar-shaped nonpareils and cranberry thins, the shop’s signature products. “They’ve gained an amazing following, and we can’t keep up with demand.”

Because local Cape Codders need chocolate, too: “We focus on the year-round community first, and intentionally selected a location outside of the main tourist areas,” Cronin says. “We are busier in winter than in the summer, serving over 200 or 300 customers daily on the days leading up to Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Easter.” Tucked away though they might be, chocolate lovers find them. “We never get tired of the smiles on our customer’s faces.”

Sweet deets: 1600 Falmouth Road/Route 28, Centerville, 508-790-4674; https://capecodchocolatier.com.

Diane Bair and Pamela Wright can be reached at bairwright@gmail.com