When visitors click on the “About Us” link on Jan’s Homemade Candies website, they’ll come across Jan Lendi talking about her Pennsylvania Dutch and Amish roots, about helping Mom bake and decorate cakes to earn extra income and about homemade, chocolate-decorated Easter eggs.
Given such a heritage, it’s not surprising that Lendi gravitated toward making her own confections, first at home as a grade school room mother, making chocolate-covered pretzel rods and chocolate mascot pops for her children’s sport teams.
Growing word-of-mouth success eventually led to her husband Bob, a chocophile from the day he was born, asking Jan to create some homemade chocolate assortments for his business clients.
“Before long his customers began to ask if they could order my delicious chocolates,” she says. “There were so many inquiries that Bob transformed our basement into a small chocolate factory and I began taking orders over the phone. Although city codes limited my sales to deliveries and shipping only, Jan’s Homemade Candies was born!”
After the children were grown, the two decided to trade the cold Chicago winters for the warmth of sunny South Florida. It wasn’t long before Jan began to miss her little basement chocolate factory, so she and Bob started making chocolates in their condo. Friends and relatives encouraged them to open up their own shop, so the two began scouring malls for a storefront to rent.
On March 16, 2001, with her beaming mom present, the couple greeted their first customers to Jan’s Homemade Candies Inc. in Lauderdale by the Sea, Fla.
The small, 800-sq.-ft. shop carries a broad range of items, from chocolates and truffles to fudges and spicy barks and hand-painted seashells. Their passion for chocolate hasn’t gone unnoticed. Their chocolate shop has been voted “Best of Fort Lauderdale” four years running (2010 to 2013) and they have been listed in Grandparents magazine as one of the “10 Best Candy Shops in America,” for Best Homemade Chocolate.
If you were stranded on a deserted island with only one kind of candy, what would it be?
Our Berry Healthy Bark. I’d have my fruit and chocolate every day!
What’s the last cool thing you saw online?
A video explaining how God is always around us in the little and simple things that we take for granted.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I just wanted to be a wife and mommy. I always had a nurturing nature about me.
What issues concern you most about the confectionery industry and why?
What’s the last book you read?
“Heaven is for Real” by Todd Burpo; I couldn’t put it down — I read it in one day.
What is your pet peeve?
People squeezing our chocolate-covered Twinkies!
If given the chance to choose anyone, whom would you like to collaborate with?
No question — Willie Wonka!
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
“If it doesn’t come from your heart, don’t do it or say it.”
What excites you most about your job?
Watching the excitement of our customer’s faces when they taste our chocolates, knowing that we’ve made someone’s day just a little sweeter.