Community Feature It’s Beginning To Feel A Lot Like Christmas At Henry’s Candy Company
If you need a little nostalgia mixed with the Christmas spirit, look no further than Henry’s Candy Company. A local and regional treasure, Henry’s delights children and adults alike, bringing sugar-filled joy for more than 60 years. Even their sign, “HENRY’S CANDY CO. – Old Fashioned HAND MADE Candies” – feels like Christmas with its red and white candy cane stripes. A literal Santa’s Workshop of activity, Henry’s is open 363 days a year – closing only on Thanksgiving and Christmas days. It’s prime time for holiday orders, and they offer a variety of candies to satisfy every sweet tooth.
Old Fashioned Candy Making Meets Today’s Technology
SKT provides Phone and Internet service at Henry’s store, located just off K-15 in Dexter, Kansas. Access to reliable Internet services has allowed the company to add more convenient payment methods for customers, complete online supply orders, and expand their reach, gaining nearly 5,000 Facebook followers in less than two years.
“Having SKT’s Wireless Internet for credit cards is wonderful,” fourth-generation candymaker Robyn Evinger said. “We didn’t offer payment by credit cards for a long time … no more standing and waiting in line for our customers now! Our Facebook page has been a great help to our business, as well, because we can post what kind of candy we’ll be making on any given day, with pictures. We work hard to keep it current. Plus, we order many of our supplies through the Internet.”
More than 100 Years of Candy-Making
The Henry family has been in the candy-making business for more than 100 years. Tomas Henry, born in 1880 in Boston, Mass., learned from a Greek candy maker. He passed down the art to his son, Pat Henry Sr., and daughter-in-law, Mildred. Pat, Mildred, and their son, Pat Jr., opened Henry and Son Candy Company in downtown Dexter in 1956.
In 1975, they would expand to a larger facility, where the candy is made to this day. Pat and Mildred operated the business until their deaths. Their daughter, Evelyn Pudden, and granddaughters then took over the family business.
Today, Evelyn still does the bookkeeping, while her daughters, Tammie and Robyn Evinger – working side-by-side – make the candy, along with occasional seasonal help. They still use the same recipes, equipment, and techniques passed down through the generations.
A Holiday Tradition
It’s always Christmas in July at Henry’s Candy Co., because that’s when they start making their very popular Christmas Mix, which includes Fancy Cut Rock Candy, Ribbon Candy, Pillows, Shells, and Old-Fashioned Taffy.
“People start hollering for it in September!” Robyn said.
Thanksgiving weekend is traditionally their busiest time, as people from near and far make the pilgrimage to Henry’s to purchase their Christmas candy. More than 20 flavors are represented in their beautiful and delicious Christmas Mix, including clove, cinnamon, peppermint, anise, raspberry, grape, and tutti-frutti, just to name a few.
Robyn’s favorite is the Fancy Cut Rock Candy featuring American flags – her specialty – which came out perfectly this year. It’s quite a difficult process and only one batch is made of each of their 10 fancy, cut-rock designs for the Christmas Mix. Using 32 pounds of sugar and corn syrup, each batch is cooked and stirred by hand in a large copper pot on an open flame until it’s the perfect temperature – it can’t be too soft nor too hard! Flavoring and colors are added, ropes skillfully combined, stretched, and cut. Tammie and Robyn hardly need to say a word, pulling together like a team of fine horses as they go through the paces of candy-making. Most of today’s cut-rock candy is machine-created – but not at Henry’s – they still do it ALL by hand, in small batches.
Besides their popular Christmas Mix, Henry’s hand-makes and sells all sorts of other candy – even sugar-free! You can get their sugared drops, round sticks, sugared cut sticks, salt water taffy, peanut brittle, coconut haystacks, divinities, caramel fudge, log rolls, pecan pralines, hand-dipped milk and white chocolate clusters of all sorts, and their signature “Better Mousetraps,” “Mama Henry Bars,” and “Papa Henry Bars.” And let’s not forget their colorful, hand-spiraled lollipops!
Check out their Facebook page, “Henry’s Candy Co,” to see what’s being made today. It’s worth the trip to this unique workshop of true candymakers nestled in the scenic Grouse Valley of southeast Kansas. Visit the store at 21172 K-15 in Dexter from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Sundays. If you can’t make it out to the store, ask about having your order mailed just in time for the holidays!