12 Sweet Destinations in Pennsylvania
There's something uniquely special about Pennsylvania chocolate. Chocolate making began in Pennsylvania as early as 1757. Even if the taste of chocolate has changed since then — from gritty and bitter to smooth and sweet — the chocolate tradition has remained strong in Pa. Pennsylvania is a keystone in the history of chocolate making and is currently home to Hershey, Wilbur Chocolate Company, Gertrude Hawk and dozens of small, family-owned chocolatiers. These chocolate makers rely heavily on Pennsylvania's dairy industry and international ports, through which cocoa beans flow from Africa, South America, and Asia.
We believe that the best way to experience Pennsylvania chocolate is to take a chocolatier-hopping road trip. We compiled an itinerary of the best destinations for chocolate lovers in the state of Pennsylvania. So strap in and prepare for the ride: it'll surely be smooth and sweet.
Thinking of chocolate in Pennsylvania, where's the first place your mind will go? Probably to the factory town, amusement park and dairy fields of Hershey.
Milton Hershey's legacy seeps through every tree-lined street, roller coaster, and classroom in the town. After all, Hershey was the founder and mastermind behind the now-world-famous town. Conceived in 1900 with the acquisition of German chocolate-making machinery, the Hershey factory was completed in 1905, allowing the Hershey Company to mass produce candy for the nation. Like many other factory owners of the time, Hershey sought to build a factory town where his workers could live. Hershey went a step further, though: instead of row houses, he wanted his workers to have their own family homes. He designed thriving communities, and eventually the town became a tourist center in Pennsylvania. Now, you'll find a hotel, community center, theater, sports arena, stadium and theme park there.
Hershey plays a significant role in our cultural history, too. See how they influenced our Valentine’s Day expectations in The History of Valentine's Day Candy.
Take a trip to Chocolate World, next door to Hersheypark, for a guided tour through the chocolate making process. It might not be a true-to-form factory tour, but it'll still trigger your sweet tooth to see the cacao beans funneling into grinders, the powder being mixed in vats, the sheets of chocolate flowing into molds and the individually wrapped candy bars coming out at the end. As you leave the tour, you can also grab a free sample to savor the experience.
Wilbur Chocolate in Lititz, Pa.
Wilbur Chocolates' most popular candy is the Wilbur Bud, a chocolate treat said to have inspired the Hershey's Kiss. Founded in 1865 by Henry Oscar Wilbur and Samuel Croft, Wilbur Chocolates had a strong presence in Lititz, Philadelphia, and Newark, NJ, until it was bought by Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate in 1992. Although the Wilbur Chocolates factory is no longer in Lititz, Pa, the chocolate shop and museum still are. The Candy Americana museum features chocolate memorabilia, candy machinery, copper kettles, antique porcelain chocolate pots and other chocolate-themed items. In addition to that, the modern candy kitchen allows visitors to watch candy being made.
Mars Candy Company in Elizabethtown, Pa.
The Mars factory in Elizabethtown, Pa., is a no-nuts plant where the company manufactures Dove, Milky Way, and 3 Musketeers chocolates. If you're lucky enough to get a tour, you'll see Dove chocolate being made. Unfortunately, though, it seems like those tours are invite-only.
Godiva in Reading, Pa.
Godiva boutiques are found throughout the world, but Reading, Pa., has the particular pleasure of being home to a Godiva factory. Visiting a Godiva boutique feels like a treat in its own right — not only can you shop for gourmet chocolates, but you can also order hot chocolates, Chocolixirs and soft serve ice cream at their cafés. Pennsylvania's Godiva boutiques are in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Check out Godiva's website for insight into the chocolate-making process, and education on the difference between praline, ganache and truffle.
Callie's Candy Kitchen in Mountainhome, Pa.
Callie's Candy Kitchen was founded in 1952 and specializes in chocolate-covered treats. Located in the Poconos, Callie's Candy Kitchen features a free candy museum which displays the art and history of candy making.
Gertrude Hawk in Dunmore, Pa.
If you've ever taken part in a fundraiser, you've probably heard of Gertrude Hawk. Gertrude Hawk Chocolates was founded in 1936 in Scranton, Pa., and it's been a key force in fundraising since 1948. The fundraising model for business ended up leading Gertrude Hawk to success; in 1959, the business moved to Dunmore Pa., with a new factory, retail shop and restaurant.
Although the restaurant closed in 1973, you can still visit the retail store for the chocolatiers' signature Smidgens® and hand-dipped specialties. Once a year, the Gertrude Hawk factory opens to the public for factory tours.
Highland Chocolates in Wellsboro, Pa.
Highland Chocolates is an employment training program for adults with disabilities. Operated by Partners in Progress, Inc., a 501(c)(3) agency, the factory teaches adults to craft handmade chocolate treats, which are then sold in the store. Highland Chocolates is particularly known for its chocolate bark. They also provide factory tours for free on weekdays. In December, a trolley will carry visitors from Wellsboro to the factory as part of a holiday-themed event.
Divani Chocolatier and Barista in Foxburg, Pa.
Divani Chocolatier, founded in 2006 by Vaibhav and Melissa Bawa, may not be a historical fixture in Pennsylvania, but it is a "hidden gem" of Foxburg, Pa. The shop features an ice cream bar, coffee and tea shop and chocolate store where they sell their handmade chocolates. What sets this store apart? They extoll the quality of their ingredients, as well as their gluten free and vegan options. They use organic fruits and nuts, premium quality Belgian chocolate, and natural ingredients to make their chocolate. If you want a taste of chocolate without preservatives or chemicals, it might be worth checking out Divani Chocolatier. One craft thrives in Pennsylvania's agriculture and manufacturing industries: chocolate-making. Take a chocolate road trip to these PA destinations.
Romolo Chocolates in Erie, Pa.
Romolo Chocolates was founded in 1926 by Italian immigrant Romolo Stefanelli and his wife Elizabeth, although the Erie, Pa., shop wasn't founded until 1994. The shop features a gift shop and Cocoa Cafe, where visitors can watch chocolate being made. Romolo Chocolates specializes in handmade caramels, nougats, bark, meltaways and sponge candy.
Romolo Chocolates also hosts Sugar, an event space with painted candy-themed walls and a Starlight Peppermint stage for performers. The space is used for events including ice cream socials, candy buffets, tea parties, baby or bridal showers, birthday parties, business meetings, espresso bar, tasting parties, musical concerts, magic parties, princess parties and anniversaries.
Daffin's Candies in Sharon, Pa.
Founded in 1903 in Ohio, Daffin's Candies moved into Pennsylvania after World War II. The family store is known for its locally known candies, chocolate rabbits and Swizzle Sticks. At the store's location in Sharon, Pa., is also Daffin's Chocolate Kingdom, a display of chocolate sculptures, including giant chocolate animals, chocolate castles, a train, a village and a ferris wheel. On Swizzle Stick Day, an annual event in the spring, the Farrell candy factory is open to visitors.
Gardners Candies in Tyrone, Pa.
Founded by a teenager in 1897, Gardners Candies has grown to have ten retail stores in Pennsylvania. Its most notable product is its Original Peanut Butter Meltaway. At its Tyrone location, Gardners Candies has an ice cream parlor, candy store and candy museum that will make your mouth water!
Boyer Candy in Altoona, Pa.
Boyer Candy was founded in 1936 and is most well-known for their Mallo Cups. In the vein of Willy Wonka, Boyer Candy has been including "play money" in its candy since its early days.
Now owned by Anthony Forgione, the candy factory produces several brands of candy. On their website, you can take a virtual tour of their candy-making process.
By the end of your chocolate tour, you'll practically be swimming in chocolate souvenirs. If you're still not stuffed, check out The History of Hot Chocolate or Healthy Recipes that Use Chocolate Chips.