Schimpff's Confectionery blends tradition and innovation
Indiana business run by Schimpff family for 127 years
Schimpff’s Confectionery is a 127-year-old candy business owned by the Schimpff family since 1891, and the owners and candy-makers, Warren and Jill Schimpff, actually live above the store where three generations of Schimpffs have lived before them.
Located in the historic district of Jeffersonville, Indiana, visitors find a unique manufacturing confectionery, retail candy store, soda fountain, lunchroom, museum and demonstration area all rolled into one.
Schimpff’s is well known for its hand-dipped chocolates, as well as a wide variety of other sweets, especially hard candy. It is most famous for Hard Candy Cinnamon Red Hots and 20 flavors of Hard Candy Fish. There also is the hand-dipped Modjeska, a caramel-covered marshmallow named for noted Polish-born actress, Helena Modjeska.
And in the hard-candy demonstration area, customers can see boiling pots of sugar and corn syrup transformed into those Red Hots and Fish.
The company also has had two expansions since 2000, on either side of the vintage store, which has allowed Schimpff’s to enlarge its seating capacity, offer demonstrations to groups of up to 50-60 people, expand into a full-scale candy museum, and double its candy display area.
And it also allowed the business to triple its potential manufacturing space and provided a much-needed increase in its candy-making capacity.
If you were stranded on a deserted island with only one kind of candy, what would it be?
Jill: Schimpff’s Bourbon Balls made with Old Forester’s Bourbon.
Warren: Schimpff’s English Toffee dipped in dark chocolate.
What’s the last cool thing you saw online?
Jill: Teddy Grey’s Sweets showing an old-time candy store in England, on YouTube. A real hoot!
Warren: Greg Choen of Lofty Pursuits in Tallahassee, Florida, did a YouTube video on the Roman Candy Wagon in New Orleans, Louisiana.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Jill: Teacher (as it happens I wound up teaching levels 5th through college over a span of more than 50 years).
Warren: Dining car chef on a cross-country train.
What issues concern you most about the confectionery industry and why?
Jill and Warren: Both of us feel that the candy industry hasn’t spent enough time, effort, or money on recording or displaying its rich history. An American Candy Museum is a must, covering equipment, advertising, factories, and shops, so we could see where the industry has been and where it’s going.
What’s the last book you’ve read?
Jill: Awa Tsireh – Pueblo Painter and Silver Smith by Norman Sandfield and Diana Perdue.
Warren: Sweet as Sin by Susan Benjamin.
What is your pet peeve?
Jill: When people don’t put things back where they got them
Warren: Ice from drink cups put into trash cans!
If given the chance to choose anyone, with whom would you like to collaborate?
Jill and Warren: Both of us would love to hang out with flavor guru Dr. Davd DeFoe of Louisville, Kentucky. We’d like to pick his brain about how to make an ice-cream syrup with the cinnamon oil we use in our famous Schimpff’s Red Hots.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Jill: Too much of anything is unhealthy, said my German grandfather.
Warren: Be happy with yourself the way you are!
What excites you most about your job?
Jill: Seeing children’s eyes light up as they watch us make hard candy drops, of varying shapes, on century-old equipment!
Warren: Being able to help keep traditions and history alive in a small town where people tell us, on a daily basis, how grateful they are!