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Speach Family Candy Shoppe

“One of my favorite stories about Valentine’s Day and chocolates,” Michael Speach told me, “was about a special offer we had on our highly decorative and unique heart boxes. If a customer brought one back in, as long as it was in good condition and it had our label on it – we’d refill it with the items they chose to buy the next year, and the year after that. We had one gentleman who came in year after year and got a special assortment to fill that same box. Every year. Well one year, he didn’t show up – but his wife did. He had passed away, but she wanted to keep that tradition going, so she was going to fill that very special box with candy for her kids and grandkids. That’s the kind of thing that keeps us working as hard as we do with Valentine’s Day and Easter coming up – the stories we share with customers. That, and a sense of humor!”

I asked Speach if he knew how Valentine’s Day and chocolate came to be so closely associated, and as it turns out, while chocolate and love go all the way back to the Aztecs, it was in 1861 that British chocolatier Richard Cadbury got the brilliant idea to package his chocolates in heart-shaped boxes, decorated with Cupids, frills and bows. The tradition has never gone out of style.

But if you want to explore the whole idea of “sweets” and “fun” this holiday, or any holiday, you owe it to yourself to visit the Speach Family Candy Shoppe. Just a quick stop on the website will give you all you need to know: the company is about delicious, absolutely. But it’s also quite clear that it’s about fun, joy, and sharing some “happy,” especially in a time that’s been a challenge for us all.

“When a child comes in the store,” Speach told me, “they just go crazy before they’ve finished looking in the first aisle. But we find that when an adult comes in, they feel young again, too. But it’s more than nostalgia, finding candy from your own childhood, or wanting to try something new. It’s that people want to feel good, have a laugh, or look forward to something.”

He explained that a novelty mix – “For the Love of Vinyl Tray” – came out of his staff dedicating Friday’s at work to a little fun, listening to vinyl records to keep things happy and lighten the load, since they were an “essential business” (and candy is definitely essential!) and stayed open throughout the early days of the pandemic. “Now we sell a box that is dedicated to the vinyl lover. Real vinyl records are melted into a candy tray that’s going to make any vinyl collector delighted. They’re available in 45 RPM or 33 1/3 RPM styles, and come with a Speach Family Sweet Studios label that will be unique to every order.”

Speach admitted that he gets less and less sleep as February looms ahead, knowing that one of their, if not the biggest candy selling seasons of the year is coming up. “So humor is our way of enjoying the holidays.”

This Christmas, the company offered “Snowman Poo,” and it was a hit, so they decided to see what Cupid had to offer. Cupid Poo (“Love Happens”) turns out to be a white chocolate party mix made with cereal, mixed nuts, pretzels, cinnamon, chocolate candies and red hots – and served up by a unique version of Cupid, complete with fluffy wings and a special smile. When you see him, you’ll fall in love!

There are molded chocolates in everything from traditional, to absolutely silly, to adult; a delicious assortment of fudge; miniatures; chocolate covered pretzels and chips; and something called a “brickle,” 80 different varieties of the Speach version of chocolate bark – crisp, flavorful, and offered in both beautiful and bubbly styles to suit a special holiday, occasion or gift.

If you were to simply meet Michael Speach, or any one of his family or co-workers, you’d think that surely this merry and motley crew created the company. Not so. It’s actually a family affair, having been started by Michael’s great-grandfather, Michele Spicciati, who emigrated to the United States to join some of his family already here. Like many new Americans, he moved around, worked at various jobs, and eventually ended up in Syracuse working for a cough drop company, where he learned the basics of candy making. Equipped with the essentials, Michele became intrigued with the magic – dreaming up an idea, blending just the right ingredients, cooking and mixing them “just so” and cooling and packaging them when they’re perfect for wrapping, and then waiting to see the smile the flavor would bring to a customer’s face.

“Today, we still make some of the recipes he handed down, along with others my mother created,” Speach said. “Each generation has expanded the line. I added the alcohol flavorings to some Truffles, and we call them ‘Top Shelf Truffles.’ A little cocktail, a little dessert.”

The Chocoholic Box was a result of the pandemic, hitting as it did just before Easter. “We had a lot of product to move,” explains Speach. “So we started creating a mystery box. There were six different designs, all related to COVID. ‘Just a Test’ came with an empty roll of toilet paper; or the ‘Zombie Apocalypse’ was wrapped with caution tape in a bright red box. We packaged them up in six different sizes, flavors and mixes. We were selling them locally and on-line through our website, when someone from Amazon contacted us about a subscription box idea. In June we’ll have been selling them that way for two years. You can still order a single surprise box direct from us, or subscribe through Amazon. You never know how a product will get created. A bride wanted a ‘care package’ to give to her guests who couldn’t attend her wedding – so she had us make a bride and groom chocolate covered pretzel rod!”

A glance at the website assures you that in addition to candies, old and new, traditional and custom – including some of your old favorites like Black Jack Gum, Necco Wafers and Licorice Laces – two other important offerings are family: relatives; co-workers; and the greater community; and fun.

The company is proud of its record of fund-raisers, partnering with a wide range of local organizations to help raise up the community that supports them, celebrating 2020 as its official 10 Decades (yes, that’s 100 years!) of Giving.

And the fun just oozes out of every little thing about The Speach Family Candy Shoppe. From specialty gifts of the non-edible variety to just about everything sweet (and sassy) that’s more-than-fit to serve, you’ll find it at your home-town candy shoppe.

You can order online, but stop in if you can – including Sunday, February 13th, just in time for Valentine’s Day. The spirit of sweet is contagious, and you’re bound to leave with something delicious, and a smile on your face.

Speach Family Candy Shoppe

2400 Lodi Street – Syracuse, NY 13208
315-478-3100 • 855-472-2639

https://www.speachfamilycandy.com/

Hours:
Monday-Saturday… 10AM-5PM
Sunday… Closed
Sunday, February 13th open noon-five (special hours pre-Valentine’s) You may also schedule an appointment by calling 315-478-3100 or e-mail at speachcandy@gmail.com

Facebook – www.facebook.com/speachfamilycandy
Twitter – @SpeachCandy
Instagram – speachcandy

Nancy Roberts
Writer, voice over artist, information achitect, very curious person.