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Sweet Dreams Are Made in the West End

The new, charmingly low-tech Aglamesis Bros chocolate factory expands candy-making capacity while maintaining family traditions.

by Sarah M. Mullins

Aglamesis Bros moved its candy manufacturing from above the flagship Oakley store to a brand new production facility on Central Avenue in the West End. President Randy Young says the operation outgrew the original space. “We chose historic West End because it’s in the downtown area,” he says. “This neighborhood is just exploding, and we’re very happy to be a part of its rejuvenation.”

Original equipment was transferred to the West End, including copper kettles that simmer toffee ingredients. Once the toffee reaches the ideal temperature, it’s then poured onto a cooling table, scored, and broken into bit-sized pieces.

Marble tables were initially used to set the toffee in Oakley, but the company moved to modernized cooling tables that constantly have water flowing through the inside. Marble tended to lose its cooling ability after just a few batches of toffee.

One of Aglamesis’ specialties is hand-dipped cherries, which get their juicy flavor from a candy coating that triggers a natural chemical reaction. “Everybody asks, How do you get that syrup around the cherry when I bite into it? The secret is it’s the natural juices,” says Young, the third generation to lead the family-owned company since its founding in 1908 by brothers Thomas and Nicholas Aglamesis.

Oreos, almonds, peanut clusters … you name it, and Aglamesis workers cover it in chocolate. “We use real chocolate,” says Young. “There aren’t too many of us left who use nothing but that.” To avoid hardening, melted chocolate moves constantly on a machine that resembles a chocolate fountain.

Caramels are another candy gliding down the new conveyor belts daily. They’re hand-placed and spaced out so the cascade of chocolate can smother each piece in a generous, even coating. The caramels then solidify on a journey down a cooling table to be inspected.

Individual chocolate candies are inspected before they make it to the signature pink striped Aglamesis boxes. If they don’t make the cut, the misfits are bundled as “rejects” and sold by the bag. Pieces that make the cut are hand-packed and/or individually wrapped. Signature candy boxes and bags are shipped to gift recipients or sent to the two Aglamesis Bros retail locations (Oakley and Montgomery) and other retail outlets in gift-ready packaging.

“It’s been 115 years of a wonderful legacy for us to be operating with,” says Young. “We hope with this new facility we’ll be able to go on for another 115 years.”

Photographs by HATSUE

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