Northern Wilds Magazine
Great! Lakes Candy Kitchen offers a giant selection of sweet treats, including sweet cream caramel apples. | GREAT! LAKES CANDY KITCHEN
North Shore Dish

Satisfying Your Sweet Tooth Cravings

I’ve got a sweet tooth. Sometimes I try to blame it on my grandfather. He was a Danish man who emigrated in the 1920s; a gruff, playful, and hardworking man with a penchant for table sugar sprinkled on garden fresh tomatoes and chocolate chips straight out of the bag (which he incidentally didn’t keep in a bag, but in a glass mason jar in the cupboard).

Sometimes, a sweet tooth calls for something more sophisticated than chocolate chips out of the cupboard, and along the North Shore we have several options for handmade, unique, and even nostalgic treats. For many of us, food is closely tied to memory, and some of our local candy shops are also in the memory business—both in creating new ones and inciting old ones. Great! Lakes Candy Kitchen in Knife River is in the legacy chocolate business, Ely’s Old-Fashioned Candy is packed full of throwbacks from another time, and Rocky Mtn Chocolate is building a family-owned legacy across Canada.

Great! Lakes Candy Kitchen, Knife River

Great! Lakes Candy Kitchen is situated in a little house with a picturesque porch right on the North Shore Scenic Drive, with a lovely view of Lake Superior. For many, the opening of Great! Lakes Candy Kitchen marks the hope of spring. They are a fourth-generation candy store, using the same recipes they always have, while developing a few new ones along the way. All of their candies are made in copper kettles onsite, with a conscientious eye towards the best ingredients for the best candies.

In my house there is great debate over which kind of chocolate is the best: dark or milk. The beauty at Great! Lakes Candy Kitchen is that most of their signature chocolate treats can be purchased in dark or milk chocolate, and they have some white chocolate treats available as well. Malted milk balls, chocolate fish on a stick, twirly lollipops, hard candies, and other treats can be found prepackaged around the perimeter of the store, along with some local treasures and tchotchkes. Or, you can hand-select your treats from the large display case, which is full of climate-controlled chocolate treats; sea salt caramels, coconut almond chocolate, truffles, peanut brittle, turtles, English toffee, and more. All items are sold by the pound, so you can get as few or as many treats as you want.

Above all, the folks at Great! Lakes Candy Kitchen value legacy. They have created legacy with their heirloom recipes and on-site creations from scratch, but they also strive to be a destination along the North Shore. In addition to delicious homemade treats, the Candy Kitchen has a Bear Trail alongside the shop with life size hand-painted bears and photo spots, where you’ll find children and grownups alike stretching their legs on a summer day.

In addition to the canoe of salt water taffy, Ely’s Old-Fashioned Candy has many other nostalgic offerings, such as wax lips, candy buttons, Pop Rocks, Fruit Stripe Gum, and Beeman’s Clove Gum. | ELY’S OLD-FASHIONED CANDY

Ely’s Old-Fashioned Candy, Ely

The old storefront, located on Sheridan Street in the heart of Ely, once served as a tavern and then a shoe store before welcoming Ely’s Old-Fashioned Candy in 2017. When you walk in, you are hit with a sugar rush of nostalgia. Ely’s Old-Fashioned Candy deals in more than just candy; they deal in memories.

Candies are sorted in wooden buckets around the perimeter of the store—more than 100 different kinds—all organized by the decade in which they were invented. Lining these same walls, above the buckets of treats, you’ll find photographs of Ely and of Sheridan Street dating back to circa 1890, and the shelves are peppered with interesting stories and facts about the origins of your favorite candies.

In addition to the canoe of salt water taffy and other individually wrapped candies along the wall, from which you can create your own personalized bag of treats, Ely’s Old-Fashioned Candy has many other nostalgic offerings. They offer candy buttons, Pop Rocks, wax lips, and if you’re an adult of a certain age, you may remember Fruit Stripe Gum or maybe even Beeman’s Clove Gum. Ely’s Old-Fashioned Candy has all of your modern favorites too, including handcrafted chocolates, cotton candy, popcorn, and Minnesota maple syrup, but these older and difficult to find candies are what truly makes it unique.

Rocky Mtn Chocolate, Thunder Bay

With 45 locations across Canada, Rocky Mtn Chocolate remains a family-owned business, serving Canadians from coast to coast. Rocky Mtn Chocolate came from humble beginnings, opening their first store in Whistler Village in 1988, and has since become one of the most recognizable chocolate brands in Canada, and the Thunder Bay location can be found in the Intercity Shopping Centre.

Rocky Mtn Chocolate creates handmade chocolates in small batches, and is known for their chocolate bombs. These bombs are “smooth chocolate, wrapped in caramel and chocolate, flavored to perfection.” There are a wide variety of chocolate bomb flavors, such as sea salt toffee, raspberry cheesecake, matcha green tea, wild blueberry, tropical escape, and apple pie. Rocky Mtn Chocolate also sports an assortment of caramel apples, fudge, chocolate bars, and chocolate dipped fruit and nuts, all exclusively handmade. If you stop in at the right time, you just might catch some fudge-making or caramel dipping.

They also offer online ordering, including shipping and same day delivery, depending on your location. Rocky Mtn Coffee is a proudly Canadian family-owned business, a member of the World Cocoa Foundation, focusing on the sustainability of the cocoa market and farmers around the world, and is dedicated to the future of confection.

Candies and chocolate are not the first thing that comes to mind when considering your legacy, but one thing I love about Great! Lakes Candy Kitchen, Ely’s Old-Fashioned Candy, and Rocky Mtn Chocolate is each of them has legacy as part of their mission. Great! Lakes Candy Kitchen uses recipes passed down four generations, and has created a lovely destination on the shore to stretch your legs and experience handmade candies from year to year. Ely’s Old-Fashioned Candy brings a wealth of historical candy knowledge, and the ability to experience candies that seemingly were lost to time. Rocky Mtn Chocolate remains focused on scalable growth within Canada, but also on creating a sustainable industry of chocolatiers. It’s not sugar-sprinkled garden tomatoes, but legacy takes on many different forms.

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