Since 1935, Van Otis Chocolates has been handcrafting premium chocolates and other fine candy.
Voted best chocolatier in New Hampshire for the past 16 years, Van Otis’ products are freshly made on premises every day. They include chocolate-covered creams, jellies, fruits, nougats, caramels, turtles, patties, as well as gourmet truffles, freshly roasted cashews, and of course, its “world famous” Swiss Fudge. Factory tours and chocolate-making classes for children and adults are being offered on a weekly basis.
The company’s history dates back to the fall of 1935. That’s when Evangeline Hasiotis opened a tiny candy store, selling a small line of chocolates in the same building as the family’s apartment in Manchester, N.H.
Hasiotis’s store had no official name and no significant signage, as was typical of local ethnic neighborhood life in that era. It was known within the neighborhood simply as “the candy store.”
However, the chocolate business thrived in the decades that followed, and in 1958, Hasiotis bought property to move the store to the corner of Chestnut and Cedar Street. It was at this time that she and her coworkers sought an official name for the store. They came up with “Van Otis Chocolates” as a derivation of Evangeline’s first and last name.
In 1959, Hasiotis began development of the now famous Van Otis Swiss Fudge. Although often imitated, the candy crew at Van Otis asserts the company’s Swiss Fudge has never been equaled.
In 2002, Van Otis Chocolates consolidated production and fulfillment activities into a 12,000-sq.-ft. facility at 341 Elm St. in Manchester. This facility also houses a retail store and a 5,000-sq.-ft. candy kitchen.
In 2008, Marc Amiet purchased the business. Under the guidance of General Manager Danielle Maxwell and Head Candy Maker Tom Reid, Van Otis Chocolates continues today to carry on the traditions started by Hasiotis while embarking on new initiatives. Below, Reid reveals his persona to readers.
If you were stranded on a deserted island with only one kind of candy, what would it be?
Hard to narrow down because the two are very different — Sour Patch Kids or Fireballs. However, if I had to choose one I would say Fireballs.
What’s the last cool thing you saw online?
The trailer to the Stephen King thriller “Dark Tower.”
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A professional hockey player.
What issues concern you most about the confectionery industry and why?
The nature of the industry is changing. There are fewer and fewer small “mom and pops,” and even the intermediate companies are changing. The old way of doing things is disappearing.
What’s the last book you’ve read?
“The Shack” by William P. Young.
What is your pet peeve?
Tardiness, people who are late for work or late for events. I hate being late for a movie — I have to watch all the trailers.
If given the chance to choose anyone, with whom would you like to collaborate?
Alton Brown. He has a great way of explaining recipes and does many candies and confections.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
You are responsible for your own happiness.
What excites you most about your job?
The variety of confections we produce, what I consider making a “real” piece of candy, such as Swiss fudge, brittle, toffee and the like.