Click here to check out this week's Quick Bites.
You know those little tags or strings that appear in every Hershey's Kiss?
They used to be made at The Old Bag Factory, 1100 Chicago Ave., Goshen.
And now a guy who learned how to make chocolates from the Hershey company is making chocolates in that very building.
Dan Spence opened The Chocolate Shop on the second floor of the bag factory about two weeks ago. He's still getting settled, but is already offering a variety of European truffles and will fill custom orders for molded chocolate.
He turned 63 last week. He's been making chocolates since he was 12 and that began around the country's most famous chocolate company.
Spence was born in York, Pa. His father died when Spence was 2 years old. His mother couldn't manage the seven children, so he went to a foster home. After the foster father got sick, he went to the Milton Hershey School, an orphanage for boys like him.
One of the principles there, aside from going to church, was learning a trade. He picked chocolate.
More than 50 years later, he points out that he hasn't made as much money as Hershey.
He also said he hasn't gone bankrupt like Milton Hershey did.
“I love what I do,” he said while taking a break from dipping truffles in molten chocolate. “I enjoy it.”
After the Hershey school, he went to Lancaster Bible College and became a pastor in southeastern Kentucky. You can still hear a bit of both Pennsylvania and Kentucky in his accent.
He opened a candy shop in Renfro Valley, Ky., for a dozen years or so. He went back to Pennsylvania and had two shops there, he said, before going back to Kentucky.
This summer, he came to The Old Bag Factory as a tourist and was wooed to open a shop there.
So now, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., six days a week, he's making and selling chocolate from his little shop. From his counter, he can nearly see a roll of Hershey kiss tags hanging in a historical room across the hall.
He knows the science of how to temper chocolate. He's a fan of Wilbur chocolate from Lititz, Pa., and uses that for his candy. He can tell you why Hershey chocolate isn't as good as it once was. “It's not as smooth and creamy as it used to be,” he said.
His own process involves time and making things by hand. “It's really a combination of chemistry and art,” he said.
He makes a ganache center of chocolate and cream and later rolls it in melted dark or milk chocolate. He can then add a bit of sea salt, spices or nuts. The cinnamon-topped truffle is his best-seller so far.
He sells the truffles for a dollar each. They reflect his care and are well-made.
But he also sells hard candy for a few pennies so that anyone can buy something in his store. In addition to the truffles, he's also selling dipped pretzels, Oreos and graham crackers.
Across the hall, a roll of those Hershey kiss strings or papers hangs in the historical room of the bag factory. Dave Shenk, owner of Quilt Designs at the bag factory, said every two weeks for several decades, a semi-trailer hauled those tags from the bag factory to Hershey, Pa. Shenk uses the bit of trivia with tour groups visiting the bag factory. He's not sure about how long the bag factory made those strings, but thinks it may have been from the 1940s to 1970s.
But he is sure of what he thinks of Spence's chocolate. “His chocolate is incredible,” he said.
He's right. It's very good. And talking to Spence can give a sense of the history and craftsmanship too.
Goshen already had Olympia Candy Kitchen and The Nut Shoppe, which make and sell great chocolates. Now there's a third shop.
I don't think that's a bad thing at all. As Spence said, “Chocolate makes people happy.”
I'm hungry. Let's eat.
Marshall V. King is news/multimedia editor and food columnist for The Elkhart Truth/eTruth.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org, 574-296-5805, on Twitter @hungrymarshall or via Facebook. His blog is at www.blogs.etruth.com/diningalaking/.
If You Go
What: The Chocolate Shop
Where: 1100 Chicago Ave, Goshen, on the second floor of The Old Bag Factory
Fare: Handmade chocolates
Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Saturday
Click here to visit the website