by MICHELLE MASTRO
Although they keep candy canes in stock year round, the last week of October initiates what the Badger family, owners of the Martinsville Candy Kitchen, lovingly call “cane season.” That’s when customers start lining up before the shop opens. It’s also when the Badgers ramp up production in order to meet holiday demand.
When Cristian Devlin’s parents, John Badger XIV (the 14th) and his wife, Pam, bought the Candy Kitchen in 2004, the purchase included the recipes and equipment that have been handed down since the shop was founded by Greek immigrant Jimmy Zapapas in 1919.
“When people walk through our door, they say it’s like taking a step back in time,” Devlin says of the candy shop that also includes an ice cream parlor and soda fountain. Traditional recipes include classic candies like old-fashioned divinity. Other bestsellers include peanut brittle, turtles, and fudge.
However, candy canes are the shop’s major draw at Christmas. People come from all over to watch them being pulled by members of the Badger family. “It’s a family business,” Devlin says. “I manage the store. My parents and brother and his kids make the candy. My mom works the floor.”
Making candy canes is labor intensive. The molten sugar mixture is poured onto a marble slab, colored, hung from a hook, and pulled. Then the candy is twisted, red and white together, into a long, single piece, and chopped off to make the individual canes. “To put things in perspective,” Devlin says, “it takes two people two-and-a-half hours to make 200 6-inch candy canes.”
For candy cane demonstration viewing times, visit the Candy Kitchen on Facebook and Instagram. Martinsville Candy Kitchen is located at 46 N. Main St., Martinsville.
See the Candy Kitchen’s candy cane production process below.