The first candy cane made in the United States was made here. It was cooked in a copper kettle here. It was rolled, kneaded, and striped here. It was given the telltale hook right here in Cincinnati—at Doscher’s Candy Co. in 1871.
It was not, however, flavored blue raspberry. Or watermelon. Or (swoon) strawberries and cream. For those delectable flavors we must return to the present, where Doscher’s is branching out and expanding in fascinating new directions.
It has new digs, for one. Originally located on 5th Street between Broadway and Sycamore (what today is a Procter & Gamble hedgerow), the confectioner soon transitioned to a factory on Canal Street (Central Parkway), then to a building on Court Street. Yet in 2017, after 146 years downtown, Doscher’s moved to Newtown.
Mind you, not to some merit-less, nondescript warehouse, but rather to a gorgeous Victorian home (c. 1835), which Doscher’s’ new owners renovated with the help of Al Neyer. That home is now the site of 8,000 square feet of factory space, office space, retail space, and tea room space.
In the factory, the team is busy refining new creations, including cane flavors like gummy bear and pina colada. At the same time they’re ramping up production for the busy season, though it’s still only May. That’s partly because Doscher’s is distributed in nearly every Kroger in the nation and sells better than one million canes a year. It’s also because, with ever-expanding flavors and shapes, that so-called “busy season” is creeping ever closer to year-round status.
You can see the fruits in the retail space. There, all manner of cane flavors and other candies are stocked, including a Fiona-themed chew.
A chew, by the way, is essentially taffy. Just don’t call it that. They’re flavored with vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, or banana. You’ve probably eaten one without ever knowing it was made in Cincinnati.
Same deal with Doscher’s candy canes, which you should prefer over national brands. That’s because these canes are still made in the same way as they were 150 years ago—in a copper kettle, then hand-hooked to perfection.
Just like it should be.
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Doscher’s Candy Co. is located at 6926 Main Street (45244). Factory tours are available, and afternoon tea is served on Wednesdays.