Originally a combination soda fountain and candy store, the Olympia Candy Kitchen opened its doors in Chambersburg, Pa. in 1903. One hundred and five years later, the store is family-owned and still producing some of the finest confections in Pennsylvania.
Experienced candy makers George Pananes and his brother James purchased Olympia Candy Kitchen in 1919 from its original founder, J.K. Proferes. Throughout the Great Depression and World War II, the store sold sandwiches and soups in addition to candy and ice cream. By 1947, Olympia became a “candy only” operation, specializing in gift assortments and a large selection of candies.
When James retired from the business, George and his wife took over with their three children. After growing up with candy and working in the store on a daily basis, their youngest child, Will, found an interest in the company and bought out his father in 1974. To start out, Will introduced advanced equipment and expanded production along with opening an old-fashioned ice cream parlor in the back of the Olympia Candy Kitchen.
Today, Olympia offers delicious candies at its Chambersburg location and also at its second location in Hagerstown, Pa. The ice cream parlor offers sundaes, malts, shakes and sodas, just like the old days, at the original Chambers-burg location.
Some of the Kitchen’s best selling confections include chocolate-covered caramels, pecan turtles, pecan caramels (a non-chocolate confection), peanut butter truffles and peanut butter cups. In addition, Olympia’s dark chocolate vanilla buttercreams were awarded “Best of Philadelphia” by Philadelphia Magazine in the mid-1990’s. After 105 years in business, Olympia Candy Kitchen continues to deliver on product quality and variety.
What did you think you would be when you grew up?
TONY: I have to grow up?
WILL: If you asked this when I was a child I would have said ‘anything but a candy maker.’
Name one or some of your favorite movies.
TONY: “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “Walk the Line,” & the “Band of Brothers” series.
WILL: “High Noon” with Gary Cooper and “America, America” directed by Elia Kazan.
Describe your perfect dream vacation.
TONY: With my girlfriend either in a cool forest or on a secluded beach – away from civilization – with nothing but a stack of books and some music, plenty of food, no cell phones and no agenda.
WILL: Disney World with treasured friends.
What book are you currently reading?
TONY: Wild At Heart by John Eldredge.
WILL: Raising Holy Hell: A novel of John Brown by Bruce Olds.
Aside from a family member, whom would you most want to be stranded with on a deserted island?
TONY: This changes every 5 or 6 years, but right now it’s George W. Bush…because we both need some time away from the “real” world.
WILL: My best friend, Paul, who is a survivor.
What’s your pet peeve?
BOTH: Customers who think you make a ton of money.
I’d give anything to meet:
TONY: My grandmother and grandfather Pananes – they both passed away before I was born.
WILL: Dwight D. Eisenhower or George Washington.
The best piece of advice that I’ve gotten:
TONY: “Respect your elders!”
WILL: “Live life with a passion.”
What excites you most about your job?
TONY: The smile on our customers’ faces when they walk in the door and the reaction we get after they eat one of our chocolates.
WILL: With our business and the products we have, we can touch people positively and make their day.