Door County Candy: Fond memories fuel candy career
Summers spent working at relatives’ shop provides basis for an entrepreneurial career that provides confections to residents and tourists alike in picturesque Door County, Wis.
Terry Ullman has worked as a machinist in a shipyard and as an environmental planner for Green Bay, Wis. During that time, however, he often would reflect about the summers spent as a teenager helping his Uncle Ken and Aunt Joyce at their Caramel Crisp Shop in Estes Park, Colo.
Thankfully for the residents of Sturgeon Bay and the countless tourists that pass through the city while vacationing in Door County, Wisconsin’s pleasure peninsula, Ullman didn’t let go of those memories.
In 1996, he took the leap and decided to open his own shop in Sturgeon Bay, Wis., leasing 400 sq. ft. of space and dubbing it Copper Kettle Confections. It was there that Ullman met his wife, Rebecca, who happened to live above the Copper Kettle storefront at the time.
Since then, the years have been full of growth and change for Copper Kettle, including a different name: Door County Candy. In 2010, the city turned Third Avenue into a two-way street, spurring growth even further.
This summer, Door County Candy will be celebrating its 19th anniversary. The company offers up fresh fudge, bulk-packaged candy, 16 flavors of Cedar Crest ice cream, fresh gourmet popcorn, more than 60 flavors of salt water taffy, an abundance of imported licorice and chocolate-covered bacon products.
If you were stranded on a deserted island with only one kind of candy, what would it be?
Rum-flavored Life Savers, just in case I needed to save someone else floating by.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a forester or in the natural resources field.
What issues concern you most about the confectionery industry and why?
I’m concerned about people having all these allergies. How did the former generations survive? It makes for a somewhat monumental task to keep up to date with ingredient changes.
What’s the last book you read?
Antoinette Pope School Candy Book by Antoinette and Francois Pope. It’s an oldie but a good reference.
What is your pet peeve?
Folks who throw cigarettes out of cars or on to sidewalks.
If given the chance to choose anyone, whom would you like to collaborate with?
I’d collaborate with Emeril Legasse...so we could work in the kitchen and crank it up a notch.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Mother always said to take it one day at a time.
What excites you most about your job?
It seeing kids of all ages from 2-102, come into the store and see nostalgic candy that makes them feel like “the kid in a candy store”. It makes for a very rewarding occupation. I also enjoy involving my children in the workings of the shop. They also like to help with sampling any new arrivals. It is hard work, long hours, but rewarding in so many other ways...Sweet!