Unique Eats: Caruso's Candy and Soda Shoppe

By: Joel Schipper Email
By: Joel Schipper Email

Valentine's Day is less than a week away but if you haven't gotten your sweetheart something yet, no need to worry.

Chocolates remain one of the holiday's top gift items, especially the one's that are made with a little extra TLC.

News Center 16 explains how one family is foregoing machines and taking their time when it comes to sweet success.

It's a labor of love, and chocolate, nearly 9 decades in the making.

Caruso's Candy and Soda Shoppe along Front Street in Downtown Dowagiac will soon be celebrating 90 years the chocolate business.

Started in 1922, most of the original fixtures are still in place, including the solid marble counters at the working, and very popular soda fountain.

Julie Johnson, Owner of Caruso's, describes the things they make at the soda shop, “We hand-dip malts, we make the old fashioned sodas, the green river, we have a luncheon counter.”

Julie Johnson and her sister Jane own Caruso's, they're third generation chocolatiers.

Johnson describes the people that come in during the summer, “Those people that come from Chicago who have lake homes really patronize us quite a bit, too, and do a lot through the summer months.”

There's a common phrase you are going to hear at Caruso's, hand-dipped, very much their badge of honor.

Johnson describes how they hand dip each one, “There's no machinery that covers it, or rolls it or does anything at all it's all specifically hand dipped one at a time.”

With Valentine's Day right around the corner, chocolate remains one of the top gifts.

Johnson explains the business they get around Valentine's Day, “We hand-pack the boxes so we can actually special order hand-packed boxes so you don't have to have an assortment of something you may not like.”

Making some of their most popular items like peanut clusters or toffee takes awhile and isn't learned overnight, especially when it comes to tempering the chocolate so it's just right.

Johnson describes how it takes time to make the perfect one, “It takes lots of years of practice to get there. It's is an art, people don't realize that it is an art, candy making and it's becoming an lost art.”

Johnson also explains the comments she gets when people look at the treats she has made, “Lot of people their comment is 'wow, this place is like stepping back into the past.' There's not many places left like this.”

Caruso's also carries a variety of handmade sugar free items as well.

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