A Sweet Ride

by James rada Jr., Blair Garrett, and deb abraham spalding

Just last year, Valentine’s Day meant giving personalized Valentine’s cards to our classmates and families; snacking on sweets like Smarties®, SweetTarts®, and heart-shaped chocolates; and declaring our love with flowers and engagements.

This year is going to look a lot different, with social distancing in place and the sharing of treats suspect, we’re presented with a sweet challenge: expressing sentiments to our sweeties without getting too close.

We’d like to propose to you a sweet alternative: To take a sweet ride to area sweet shops. Specialty candies and chocolates are an easy way to score brownie points and show the important people in your life how much you love them. So, make this year’s V-Day a special one with a road trip to regional and local places that sell sweetness.

1. Gateway Candyland

Gateway Candyland has brought Thurmont residents and Route 15 travelers candies and goodies for over 35 years. The store has made additions over the years, adding 26 flavors of Hershey’s hand-dipped ice cream, 6 flavors of soft-serve ice cream, 2 flavors of Italian Ice, and delicious homemade fudge to the repertoire, offering something tasty for just about everyone.

Candyland’s more than 20 fudge options and 300 types of candy give visitors all they can handle, and more. You’re sure to find something to satisfy your sweet tooth!

Interested in making your own candies? Gateway also sells the area’s largest selection of candy-making supplies in one location for you do-it-yourselfers.

 There are plenty of great shops to visit during your very own Valentine’s Sweet Ride! Finding great candies and chocolates to sweeten your February or Valentine’s Day has never been easier.

Indulging in our sweet tooth may be just what we need to put a miserable 2020 behind us. Let’s make 2021 a little bit sweeter!

2. Mister Ed’s Elephant Museum and Candy Emporium

Everyone local to the Gettysburg area has seen the signs! Big and bold is the name of the game for Mister Ed’s Elephant Museum and Candy Emporium. As you drive along, it’s hard to miss this unique attraction with the giant billboards directing you to the elephant garden.

Ed Gotwald, better known as “Mister Ed,” is the namesake for this must-see destination, where more than 10,000 elephants can be found in his peanut and candy store in Orrtanna, Pennsylvania. His elephants range in size from the life-size “Phoenix” to small jewelry pieces.

Mister Ed’s elephant collection began innocently with a wedding gift in 1967 from his sister-in-law. It was a little wooden elephant.

“From there, things just got out of hand,” said Mister Ed.

Although he is now retired, Mr. Ed’s granddaughter and son-in-law still carry on the traditions that make the store a destination spot. The candy emporium is known for many things, including its more than 100 flavors of homemade fudge and perfectly roasted peanuts.

3. Sweeet! Candy Store

Tapping into downtown Gettysburg’s sweet tooth is Sweeet! Candy Store. The owners, Mark and Cindy Fox, opened the retro candy shop in 2012, originally specializing in wax bottles, candy buttons, and long-lost candy bars.

However, as the store’s popularity grew, its offerings have grown to over 4,000 different items. Sweeet! has since added foreign candies from England, Spain, Japan, and more. The store also offers various retro sodas made with real cane sugar, and even unique sodas like their bacon-flavored soft drink.

4. Zoe’s Chocolate Company

Chocolates with a Mediterranean origin have graced Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, for over a decade. In 2007, third-generation chocolatiers Pantelis, Zoe, and Petros Tsoukatos opened Zoe’s Chocolate Co. in Waynesboro. The shop was inspired by their father, George, who was a master chocolatier in their family business. 

At Zoe’s, you can find items like pomegranate blended into chocolate ganache; Greek baklava dipped in chocolate, and rolled in nuts and spices; or spun honey covered in chocolate. Over the years, Zoe’s has perfected gourmet chocolates, and gained national recognition for it in the process.

“Though a lot of our chocolates have a Mediterranean taste, we try to source all of our ingredients locally,” Marketing Manager Samantha Weilacher said. Zoe’s chocolates can be found locally in Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, and in Frederick, Maryland, as well as online and in hotels and shops.

5. Despina Leos Candy Kitchen

Century-old candy stores are hard to come by, but Despina Leos Candy Kitchen in Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, has a nearly 120-year claim to fame selling candies and hand-dipped chocolates.

John Leos, a third-generation store owner, specializes in buttercreams, caramels, and turtles. “We’re one of the last stores in the country that still do hand-dipped chocolates,” Leos said.

They also have a full line of sugar-free candy, with more than 20 items. The chocolates and candies are made using the store’s original molds from 1902. Now, that’s consistency!

Shopping local has been the mantra for small towns for a long time, and Leos’ chocolates are as fresh as it gets. Local chocolates don’t contain the preservatives that national-brand chocolates need to have to extend shelf-life. “Everything in our store was made yesterday or the day before that,” Leos said.

6. Warners Old Fashioned Soda Shoppe

Shopping Local is big in downtown Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, and it seems the town is extra sweet as we add a third stop there. Entering Warners Old Fashioned Soda Shoppe is like stepping into the 1950s, with retro candies, soda, sweet creations, and gifts.

Whitney Warner invites lovers of old-fashioned candies, ice creams, floats, and the latest and greatest “stuffed” milkshakes.

Warners strives to be, “a place in the community where people can come out, hang out, just to ‘be,’” said Whitney.

In support of the downtown Waynesboro Main Street businesses, Warners invites you to participate in Galentine’s Day Brunch, Couples Strolls, Founder’s Day, and other special activities.

Retro candies, nostalgic and fun sodas, plus lunchboxes, puzzles, toys, and more.

Nearly a 120-year claim to fame selling candies and hand-dipped chocolates.

Their chocolates have received national recognition and are sold in the finest shops and hotels.

Ed Gotwald stands in his museum and candy store (2015), which features more than 10,000 elephants, ranging in size from life-size to jewelry pieces.

Whitney Warner displays Warners Old Fashioned Soda Shoppe’s have-to-try, one-of-a-kind extreme peanut butter “stuffed” milkshake.

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