Even Willy Wonka would be impressed with the sweet delights from Schimpff’s Confectionery in downtown Jeffersoville, Indiana (just north of Louisville across the Ohio River and my hometown). This charming candy store has been making their signature red hots and other goodies since 1891. These cinnamon hard candies take me back to my childhood when they frequented the cabinet above our stove. Not for the faint-hearted, they have quite a kick. Alex and I went recently as part of our “mommy day” (one-on-one time) festivities.
Schimpff’s is more than just a sweets shop – they have a deli, one of the few candy museums in the world, and an area where you can watch them make their delectables.
One beautiful thing about Schimpff’s besides the goregous cases of chocolates, colorful creams and hard candies is that it has remained in the family its entire 126 years. In fact, Warren Schimpff, the great-grandson of Gus Schimpff, who established the candy store, was there making red hots during our visit. Warren and his wife Jill are the current owners. Warren makes the candy, and Jill does the play-by-play of the candy-making, hands out candy samples, and gives a history lesson about the store.
Smaller people can use a step to see over the counter as they explain the process. They use a Vulcan gas stove (that is likely original to the store) to heat the red hot mixture to the approprite 320 degrees before it is poured out and worked into candy press. Jill said that great-grandpa Gus didn’t have a candy thermometer to determine the temperature. Instead, he dipped his finger into ice water, then quickly into the boiling mixture to check for the proper heat, and then back into the ice water! Warren, however, had heavy weight rubber gloves on while working with the hot liquid.
Schimpff’s deli menu and prices are modest. They have a selection of lunch meat sandwiches, hot dogs, egg salad and homemade soups as well as ice cream treats, so you can enjoy a little lunch before sampling loads of sugar. Alex and I had a turkey sandwich, a hot dog, two deviled eggs, and a bag of chips for $9.45.
The candy museum is fun to walk through as well – thousands of tins and boxes dating back to the late 1800s line cases. even a 5-pound gummy bear.
The red hots really are second-to-none, but my other favorites are the cinnamon gummy bears (which my sweet mom would send me in care packages when I was away at college) and modjeskas, homemade marshmallows covered in caramel – a little bite of heaven.
A kid in a candy store, Alex loved being able to pick out a couple of treats for him and Nate.
I highly recommend a trip to Schmipff’s if you’re in the Louisville area (and it’s not more than five minutes off I-65) to pick up some one-of-a-kind sweets, but if you can’t stop in, you can always order on-line.