The holidays are here and while some have visions of sugarplums dancing in their heads; making those confectionary dreams come true is a career for one local man.
"Come in "We're having a good time..."
It's hard not to act like a kid in a candy store when you walk into the 'CandyMaker.'
"Yea it's a sweet job,” said Tom Ehlke, owner of CandyMaker. “I try not to take myself too seriously and we try to have fun with it..."
For the past 25 years Ehlke has made a living off customers with a sweet tooth.
"We make the fudge here, we hand make all of our chocolates, we make our own line of caramel, we dip caramel apples, we make pecan logs, peanut brittle, we dip frozen bananas in chocolate and of course we make the saltwater taffy."
Ehlke has some of the area's largest selections of homemade candies and of course his specialty: "We started out as a taffy store more or less, and expanded from taffy, but that's our hook, that's what people come for is the homemade saltwater taffy," explained Ehlke.
There is a lot that goes in to making this sweet treat. After the base is cooked, it's distributed to all four stores. It's then reheated in the microwave and placed on a pulling machine; it pulls for about 15 to 20 minutes, flavor is added and it then goes through the roller. After the taffy is shaped, it goes through the cutting board and last but not least, onto the wrapping machine.
Ehlke makes over 18 different flavors of taffy and says his customers are always satisfied. "They're kids in a candy store and we want them to have a good time."
"Have I ever had a cavity?" said Ehlke. “Certainly...hasn't everybody? But you know what I always say...it's better to have a sweet tooth than no teeth at all..."
Ehlke opened his first candy store in Destin 25 years ago, and additionally has four other stores, including one at Pier Park.
CandyMaker (Between Bootleg Barbeque and Starbucks)
600 Pier Park Dr # 100
Panama City Bch, FL 32413-2169