Memories of the traditional Easter candy

March 26, 2013 5:09:11 AM PDT
For a lot of people, the foods they enjoy most of the year just aren't special enough for holidays. So they venture to businesses making treats they grew up enjoying.

Port Richmond, for example, has a number of butcher shops still making kielbasa the old-world way and business at all of them figures to boom this week.

Likewise, in South Philadelphia, Italian-Americans will pack stores featuring their favorites, and it'll be the same for German-Americans in Fox Chase.

One thing they all agree on is Easter candy, and a Kensington factory still using time-honored recipes is there to make the memories happen once again.

Blasius Chocolate Factory has been around the neighborhood since the 1920's. Now at 1849 E. Venango Street, the company house-makes all sorts of goodies upstairs, and operates a retail store on the ground floor.

Company president Phil Kerwick enjoys seeing multiple generations visit Easter week. He and his staff offer hollow chocolate figurines, hollow eggs up to ten pounds, and solid chocolate-covered eggs you can still have hand-decorated, even personalized.

Kerwick says Philadelphia once had a thriving retail confection business, with each neighborhood having its own indigenous candy maker Today, he says, there are only three or four still doing what his company does, and that means loyal customers making a pilgrimage to enjoy the old-time flavors one more time.

Blasius is only open from late November to Mothers Day each year the building is not air conditioned, and business is pretty much holiday-driven anyway.

Easter comprises about half his total sales. Thanks to the ingenuity of German manufacturers, the traditional chocolate Easter bunny has lots of company.

A big seller this year is a molded chocolate teddy bear, and you can also get things like chocolate telephones. The latest production devices make them easy to produce.

Blasius still blends its own chocolate. About 75% of what they sell this time of year will be milk chocolate-coated, and another 15% white chocolate. Almost no one wants darker chocolate this time of year, Kerwick says.

Blasius also sells popular butter cream eggs, boxed mainly in one-pound packages. Almost everything they sell is retailed at the Venango Street store, although one Delaware County gift shop offers the butter creams.

The plant stays active into May when it shuts down until late fall. Most employees return year-by-year. The company has no website and they do not ship their products, so you have to go straight to the source to get their holiday treats.

You may phone them for information at 215-743-1999. The retail side is normally open 9:00am to 4:00pm but they're staying open nightly until 6:00pm, through Saturday.

Some candy makers do open on Easter Sunday but Kerwick says his team prefers to enjoy the holiday. The company is not far off I-95 and also convenient to the Frankford El.

There's a parking lot behind the plant, but it tends to fill up Easter week, so you may end up parking on the street.