Meet Mavrakos in St. Louis … again.
Dan Abel’s parents, Dan Sr. and Rosalie, founded Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate Co. in St. Louis back in 1981, shortly before a friendly competitor, Mavrakos, was sold to Archibald Candy Co. A beloved St. Louis tradition, Mavrakos got its start in the city back in 1913 and operated 12 retail stores at its peak in the 1950s, selling such popular products as Molasses Puffs, Coconut Crescents and Bon Bon Creams. Unfortunately, Archibald retired the Mavrakos name … but it didn’t disappear forever.
Thankfully, the leather-bound recipe book containing all of Mavrakos’ recipes landed in the hands of Abel’s father, who grew up just down the street in Clayton, Mo., from the company’s last owner, Tom Wotka.
Over the years, Dan Jr. and his sister Christina studied the recipes and techniques, even trying a few on their own products, but most remained untouched. Still, it was always in the back of Abel’s mind.
At Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate’s eight retail stores, people would regularly stop by and share their favorite Mavrakos memories. This made Abel and his family realize that the brand was still very alive in the hearts of St. Lousians. And so they brought it back on the market.
The company began by re-creating Mavrakos’ most popular pieces over the course of two years, practicing and perfecting them. Everything came together this past Oct. 21, during a celebration that included a proclamation by the mayor of St. Louis to the city’s oldest and most legendary chocolate brand.
The first case of chocolate was donated to the USO. Since then, Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate Co. has received several hundred calls, e-mails, letters and even gifts from customers, thanking them for bringing them back their beloved brand.
What did you think you would be when you grew up?
I always knew I wanted to be a “candy man.” I grew up working alongside my mom and dad at Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate Co., dreaming of the day they would start letting me make candy.
Name one or some of your favorite movies.
“Oceans 11,” “Oceans 13,” “Citizen Kane.”
Describe your perfect dream vacation.
Somewhere exotic with the complete absence of technology. I love technology and am so connected to my laptop, cell phone, email, etc., but I think every once in a while we need a break from it. I would also like to travel to Switzerland and learn more about chocolate.
What book are you currently reading?
I just finished “Buyology,” “Outliers,” “Common Sense,” though my all-time favorite book is “The Great Gatsby.”
What’s your pet peeve?
Laziness. I am a firm believer that you need to live each day to the fullest, because time goes by way too fast.
I’d give anything to meet:
John Mavrakos, founder of Mavrakos Candy Co.. I would love to know where his creative and unique ideas for candy originated. For instance, his original “coconut crescent” is shaped like a doughnut. I’m sure he had a specific reason, and I’d love to hear about it.
The best piece of advice that I’ve gotten:
I always keep the famous quote from “Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” in the back of my mind: “We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams.” In the candy business, that is exactly what we strive to do - make people happy.
What excites you most about your job?
Being able to wear many different hats and do something different every day. In a typical day, I can work in the retail shop, handle manufacturing, tweak the Web site, work on new packaging design, meet with customers and then go help ship the orders out at the warehouse.
Editor’s Note: For more information, visit www.chocolatechocolate.com.