After emigrating from Germany, the Schmidt family started their candy shop in 1927, using home-grown recipes for making chocolate and hard candies. The chocolate was hand dipped and made on-premises by Grandpa Schmidt in the basement of the store, Schmidt’s Candy, at 94-15 Jamaica Ave.
And if you were to walk into that basement, you would find Grandpa Schmidt hard at work making caramels and dipping chocolates and mixing hot candy on his big marble table, readying it to be pulled into candy canes or ribbons or other delicate shapes.
Grandpa Schmidt wasn’t alone on Jamaica Avenue; Buck & Edebohls, The Muller Brothers, Meyer’s, Neuenburg’s and Grader’s were all popular confectionery stores in Woodhaven at the same time. But one by one, for one reason or another, the old-fashioned candy stores and soda shops began to disappear.
Walk inside Schmidt’s Candy today and you’ll find the same display cases — now antiques — and arranged inside the cases you’ll find the same impressive selection of hand-dipped and homemade candies.
Nearly 95 years later, the tradition is carried on proudly by Margie Schmidt, whose family-owned business has just reopened after its traditional summer hiatus, just in time for two of its biggest seasons, Halloween and Christmas.
Margie not only uses some of the very same recipes that her grandfather used in 1927, she actually still has some of his original utensils, including the same marble table that Grandpa Schmidt used to make the hard candies. It is this adherence to tradition and the “good old days” that residents of Woodhaven are so proud of.
And it is not just the luscious chocolate packages for Valentine’s Day or Easter that residents are proud of, nor is it the homemade and hand-pulled candy canes they buy each Christmas. Though Schmidt’s Candy’s endurance can be attributed to the quality of their product, what makes Schmidt’s truly unique is the feeling you get when you walk through the front door.
It’s like walking back in time — the beautiful tile floor, the metal scales, the display cases; these features of Schmidt’s Candy aren’t merely old-fashioned – they’re old, and they’re original.
Margie Schmidt grew up around the store, and gladly talks about the old days, sharing tales of tasting freshly made candies and learning the trade. Her father had other hopes for Margie and encouraged her to become a pharmacist, but after a year in St. John’s University she decided it wasn’t for her and sought a different destiny.
When her father passed away at the young age of 64, her mother still had bills to pay and since Margie knew how to make the chocolate and the candies, she stepped in to fill the void. Over 30 years later, she’s still making the chocolates and the candies, now the owner of Schmidt’s Candy, the third generation Schmidt to make and sell chocolate and candy on Jamaica Avenue.
Visitors to the store will no longer find the old neon sign out front. It had served Schmidt’s well for many years but it was old and beyond repair. In its place, now you’ll find a holiday and candy-themed airbrushed sign.
But step inside and up on the wall you’ll see remnants of the old sign along with other memorabilia from years past. Walking into Schmidt’s Candy is like taking a trip through time, back to when candies were made on premise, not made by machines in a factory.
Woodhaven has quite a few businesses with a number of years under their belt. Manor Delicatessen, which sits directly across the street, is about as old as Schmidt’s. Popp’s Restaurant opened in 1906. Walker Funeral home goes back to the late 1800s, as does Ohlert-Ruggiere. And Neir’s Tavern stretches back all the way to 1829.
But Schmidt’s is unique in that there is a direct line of ownership over so many decades within the same family, from Grandpa Schmidt, to his son Frank Schmidt, to his granddaughter Margie, who carries on the tradition that says hard work makes for great candy.
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