Candy makers small on shops, big on taste

April 20, 2011 (CHICAGO)

"We do a lot of hands-on things. Still do hand-dip chocolates. We weigh up everything by hand. We still break up all the chocolate by hand. It's very hands on at this factory," said Tim Balacaitis, the great nephew of the founder.

Every year they go through about 100,000 pounds of chocolate, which is turned into special treats for special times like Easter. What's the difference between Cupid Candies,, and the candy found at grocery stores?

"Such candies that are in a freeze aisle. They can be with preservatives, they can last up to a year or two. Here we make everything fresh daily and use no preservatives," Rick Balacaitis, great nephew of founder, said.

Greek immigrant Paul Stephanos opened Cupid Candies in 1936. It was a small shop filled with secret candy recipes. The recipes are still secret.

"Everything we do is our way. We don't want anyone else to know and anyone else to do it our way because then we wouldn't be as special as we are," Tim Balacaitis said.

Cupid Candies has three stores: 7637 S. Western Avenue in Chicago, 9420 W. 143rd Street in Orland Park, and 4707 West 95th Street in Oak Lawn. They also have gift shops in about 50 hospitals. The Balcaitis' say they're about as big as they want to be.

"By being smaller we're able to keep an eye on the actual quality and quantity of candy we make," Tim Balacaitis said.

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