Back in 1954, Wockenfuss Candies opened their first "suburban" store in Gardenville, after serving Baltimore from the Northeast Market on Monument Street for almost 40 years.
Now, as they prepare to celebrate a century in business, the fifth-generation candy makers have taken another huge step by moving to a larger manufacturing and distribution facility on Harford Road.
Although the business is in Parkville, it is south of the Baltimore City line.
"Our family has a history here," said Paul Wockenfuss, company president and third-generation candymaker. "It was important to us to stay here in the city."
Paul Wockenfuss grew up in the rowhome near the original store on the 5400 block of Belair Road and raised his three daughters in Parkville, Janice Wockenfuss-Motter said.
At the grand opening ceremony of the new candy factory and retail center, located at 6831 Harford Road, Paul Wockenfuss told a group of family, friends, employees and city officials—including Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and City Council President Jack Young—they were excited to be moving into the Harford Road corridor.
"If Gene Wilder had been as nervous as I am this morning," Paul said. "Willy Wonka would never have gotten that candy factory open. It took six years to get us here. This is such a strong community—we're thankful to be here."
Addressing the crowd at the Tuesday morning grand opening ceremony, Rawlings-Blake expressed how happy she was to see that the Wockenfuss family staying in Baltimore City.
"Wockenfuss is a Baltimore institution, I am proud and grateful that you chose to stay in Baltimore City," Rawlings-Blake said. "Wockenfuss is an anchor in the community, providing strength and stability ... I appreciate your loyalty to the city. This is an exciting time in Baltimore. We're building a growing city and the spirit you all have here is a testament to that."
Rawlings-Blake lamented that her daughter couldn't be present for the grand opening because she was participating in Maryland State Assessment testing, but said they would be back later in the afternoon for some chocolate.
"I'm kind of a sweets addict, I walked in here and I was like 'wow'," said Young.
"I've been a longtime supporter of Wockenfuss, ever since I was 16 or 17 ... you all helped make me what I am today—a little bit chubby," Young joked.
Young presented the family with a City Council resolution congratulating them on the expansion of their business.
The Wockenfuss Candies facility took over a space formerly occupied by a Bi-Rite supermarket and later by a clothing retailer, according to Will Ferrell, who represents Trout, Daniels & Associates—the firm that helped bring Wockenfuss to Harford Road.
"The Belair Road location was smaller and broken up over two levels," Ferrell said. "Moving here allowed them to expand, and increase production. Paul [Wockenfuss] really went the extra yard to renovate this place."
The move to the Harford Road location started back in Nov. 2011 when the retail shop opened, but was just recently completed when the family finished moving the manufacturing and distribution operation in.
Are you a long time Wockenfuss Candies customer? Are you excited they've moved into the neighborhood? Tell us in the comments!