RCI Regional docks in Baltimore

From April 9-12, 2008, confectioners joined from around the country at the Retail Confectioners International Spring Regional event held in Baltimore, Md. And what better way to kick off a RCI Spring Regional get together than to get up front and personal with sugar?
This year’s regional program kicked off with a tour to the Domino Sugar Refinery. Stuart FitzGibbon, refinery manager at Domino, pointed out that the Domino Sugars sign is the most recognizable landmark in Baltimore. In 1922, the factory produced two million lbs. of sugar with 2200 employees. Today, it produces 6.1 million lbs. of sugar with 400 employees. Additionally, the factory in Baltimore is the second largest in the U.S. at one million-sq.-ft.
Having had their appetite whetted for confections, the group continued their tour with a stop at Louis J. Rheb’s Candy Company. Louis Rheb began making candies like taffies, brittles, fudge and jellies in his basement in 1917. By 1950, Louis and his wife Esther had decided to turn their garage into a store that continues to sell their candies today. The third generation continues the family success story by producing quality chocolates.
The group’s next stop was at Wockenfuss Candies. Since 1915, Wockenfuss Homemade Candies has been working as a family to create delicious gourmet chocolates. Born in Germany, Herman C. Wockenfuss started the company when he came to Baltimore. Now owned by his youngest son, the business has eight retail stores in Maryland.
No visit of confectioners in Baltimore would be complete without a stop at Moore’s Candies. Opened in 1919, Moore’s Candies supplies to supermarkets, florists, gift shops, hospitals, and also makes custom orders. The company has Baltimore-themed treats such as chocolate crabs, shells and oysters in addition to its legendary chocolate-covered pretzels, truffles and other candies.
Thirty-five miles northeast of Baltimore in beautiful Chesapeake Bay County, lies Bomboy’s Home Made Candy. Located in Havre de Grace, Md., Bomboy’s Candy has been producing quality chocolates since 1978. With an addition across the street from its retail store, Bomboy’s also makes homemade ice cream from spring to fall.
Capping off the confectionery tours, RCI members dropped in on TIC Gums located in Belcamp, Md. The company has been manufacturing and distributing gum systems to companies for almost 100 years. A tour of the factory showed how products are made and tested, and included a stop at the R&D lab where chemical engineers use different ingredients to form ice cream, chocolate or even salad dressing.
On the final day of the RCI Regional, Mike Koch, plant manager at Morley Candy, and Thalia Hohenthal, senior scientist for Guittard Chocolate, spoke about trans fat issues. Koch had eliminated man-made trans fats from his company’s products and provided tips on how to keep quality products while eliminating trans fats. He said although it may cost more for companies to eliminate trans fats from their products, in the end customers will appreciate the healthier formula.
Koch’s Tips to eliminate trans fats and keep a quality product: Replacing bottom coats containing trans fats with pure chocolate; lengthening cold plates to allow for proper cooling time of chocolate; and using butter instead of hydrogenated oils.