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Artisan chocolates sit in the display counter of The Candy Factory on April 15.

Libby Moeller/Staff Photographer

Columbia’s Candy Factory has something for everyone

From chocolate-covered everything to giftware, they’ve got it all.

By Nat Kaemmerer | April 19, 2016

Tags: Food Fight 2016

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Old-fashioned candy making lives on in downtown Columbia.

Since 1974, The Candy Factory has been producing its own candy, including chocolate, caramel and toffee. It’s a family business, owned by Amy and Mike Atkinson. They do things the old-fashioned way here, preferring to make their candy in ways that other candy shops have long since stopped.

“We make almost all the candy, all the chocolate, fudge and toffee,” owner Amy Atkinson says. “We make it from scratch the old-fashioned way, in a copper kettle and with the marble slab.”

Upstairs is the Candy Factory’s viewing room. Here, where they conduct many tours, visitors can see their nostalgia-inducing candy equipment and appreciate what they do to create their delicious product. Fun artwork decorates the walls and the tour begins with a video on how chocolate is made.

There are four chocolate machines: two for milk chocolate, one for dark and one for white, as well as a room where they make their fudge and molded chocolate. The copper kettle and marble slab sit in another section, where they make caramel and English toffee. The kettle boils the candy over an open flame, while the marble cools the boiling hot toffee so it can be covered with chocolate. The three candymakers at the Candy Factory have career positions with the store.

“I love the tradition of having a quaint, old-fashioned candy store,” Atkinson says. “It applies to multiple generations. Kids come in for tours, grandparents come in and college students too. It’s a fun place to stop in downtown.”

The Candy Factory is even more than what you’d expect. It’s a lot bigger than it would be if it were a normal candy shop, because the shop also sells giftware. Baby clothes, wall hangings, mugs and wine glasses with sassy sayings.

“My favorite thing right now is the new line of scented candles,” Atkinson says.

The giftware is interspersed with chocolate-covered everything, peppermint sticks and all types of gummy candy. Much of the candy is made at the store, but they carry bigger brands of candy to add to the novelty and variety of the store as well.

“One of the best things is that I pretty much get to try all the candy,” employee Lauren Koehler says. “We’re encouraged to try it to tell the customers what we like.”

The store also creates gift baskets for holidays or birthdays. Easter is one of their busiest seasons when they have chocolate bunnies and jelly beans. Valentine’s Day is the hottest time for their chocolate strawberries, which, according to their website, are their best seller. You can order online, but an actual trip to the Candy Factory is always worth it.

“I would like people to, when they hear the name, for it to be a place synonymous with downtown Columbia,” Atkinson says. “I want it to a local, fun candy shop that tugs at their heart.”

Edited by Katie Rosso | krosso@themaneater.com

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