Peru candy store has Wabash ties

Shelley Ploss makes Gold Bricks at So Good Candies in Peru. Photo by Harold V. Chatlosh

By Joseph Slacian

PERU – A new candy store located in downtown Peru has a strong tie to Wabash County.

So Good Candies opened on Black Friday 2016, but the history of its sweet offerings date back 100 years.

Arnold’s Candies opened in 1917 and was purchased by Bob and Jane Haskett in 1960. The Hasketts retired in 1991, selling their recipes and cooking equipment for Wabash philanthropist Richard Ford.

Enter Fred and Amy Stadtler and her brother, Richard Ploss. The Stadtlers live in Chicago, but Mrs. Stadtler was raised in Peru and she and her brother are related to the Hasketts.

“Having been up in Chicago -- I’m not a big town girl, I always want to come back here -- so I’m kind of thinking in my head, what kind of business can I do that I know people are interested in,” Mrs. Stadtler told The Paper of Wabash County during a recent interview. “So I thought, let me see if I can find these recipes and go from there.”

The Stadtlers contacted Charley Creek Foundation President Dan Ford to ask about the recipes and other equipment. That was in early 2015.

“Dan said, ‘Well, we have them, but I don’t know where they are,’” Mrs. Stadtler recalled. “He said, ‘If we find them we’ll let them know.’ Close to a year later, we get an email from Dan that said they found them and wanted to know if we’re still interested.”

They were, and made arrangements to come to Wabash to see everything.

“Really, it was a lot of hand tools, the old knives, some of the old icing dispensers, and a little black book of handwritten recipes,” Mrs. Stadtler said. “There were some of the old invoices, paperwork and things like that. So we struck a deal with Dan and bought all they had.”

The family spent several months perfecting the recipes in the book, which contained many favorites from the former Arnold’s Candies, including the business’s two signature treats, the Gold Brick and its fudge.

“They had the Gold Brick recipe, the fudge recipe, which is also their other kind of signature recipe because it tied back to Cole Porter, who was from Peru,” Mrs. Stadtler said.

The composer, such a fan of the candy he enjoyed as a boy growing up, regularly ordered fudge from the company to be shipped to his homes in New York and California until his death in 1964.

“Actually, I have a telegram from his assistant that (the Hasketts) got when he died that said, ‘Mr. Porter has died so please stop sending fudge,’” Mrs. Stadtler said.

In addition to the Gold Brick and fudge recipes, the book contained recipes for various cream-filled candy, as well as for turtles and chocolate bark candy.

But there are other treats, such as barbecue peanuts and cinnamon potatoes.

“First thing we did was the Gold Brick because we knew that would be a big seller,” Mrs. Stadtler said. “Gold Bricks and fudge we did right away. When we opened we had that to offer. It took awhile to master. Since then we added toffee, we added turtles from the original recipes, and some of the barks and the creams.”

In all, there are about 30 recipes “that I can read,” she continued, adding that she was a little hesitant about trying some, such the cinnamon potatoes. But, she quickly added, many customers asked if and when they would be available.

“A lot of people are asking when are you getting the cinnamon potatoes, so we’ll work on those for Easter,” Mrs. Stadtler said. “Another one of their big things is their fancy Easter eggs. They used to dip their own and then decorate them, but we’re not there yet.”

She said she’s pleased with the reception the business has received so far, noting that many people from Wabash have stopped by to see the store.

“I thought we had something, but it’s been overwhelming, in a good way,” Mrs. Stadtler said. “Everybody has a story when they come in: ‘I remember Arnolds as a kid,’ or, ‘I grew up by them.’

“We’ve even had a few tears from people.”

Because the items purchased from the Charley Creek Foundation contained many old invoices, the business tried to contact the distributors to try to purchase supplies.

“We went back to all the original ones that we could and see if what they bought still existed today, or if they had something they would recommend that was very close,” Mrs. Stadtler said. “We definitely got a match on the chocolate that we use for the gold bricks, because a lot of people have complimented the chocolate.

One thing that is different, she noted, is the business’ name. Since Arnold’s Candies closed in the 1990s, an Ohio firm trademarked the name. Thus, under the sales agreement with the Charley Creek Foundation, the business needed a new name, thus So Good Candies was created.

The shop, located at 25 W. Third St. in Peru, is open from 2-6 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays.

Posted on 2017 Feb 28