Breaking News
More () »

Did you know Merckens chocolates got its start in Buffalo?

One of the biggest suppliers to candy shops around the country got its start in a former Buffalo malthouse

BUFFALO, N.Y. — For South Buffalo's Park Edge Sweet Shoppe, this time of year is like their Super Bowl. "This is going into our 11th season and Park Edge has been here since the 50's" says co-owner Maggie Mulvany.  

You head inside and you see the shelves jammed with chocolate crosses, bunnies, and other shapes you might expect, then there are a few you may not. They have everything from a police-themed collection to Darth Vader. 

Mulvany says they take pride in the selection and the hand-crafting of all of these amazing treats, and they insist on one brand of chocolate. "We only use Merckens chocolates. We use two types, their Gloria and their Marquise, and to us, it's one of the best chocolates in the industry. It's so smooth when it's tempered properly and it just instantly melts in your mouth."

Whether it is the molded creations or the hand-cut sponge candy, the chocolate is Merckens, a Rhode Island-based company that has its roots in Buffalo.

Mulvaney points out, "It still has the same great taste and it has more of a German hint to it, because it was a German who created it and it's just that smooth, crisp chocolate." 

That German was August Merckens, who was considered to be the dean of the chocolate industry. 

In 1921, he purchased the Reed Chocolate Factory at Jersey and Seventh Streets on Buffalo's west side. Over the years, the company grew to more than 100 branch offices in places like Boston, Chicago, and Los Angeles, in addition to the Buffalo headquarters. Although the corporate headquarters are now in Cumberland, Rhode Island, the Buffalo birth place combined two great things, chocolate and beer. The facility was originally built as the Schaefer and Brother Malthouse. 

Today, you can still see the old Merckens chocolate sign in faded paint on the Jersey Street side of the building. The complex was renovated by Community Beer Works with their brewery and tasting room on one side, and the Schaefer Malthouse Lofts in the old Merckens building.

Mulvaney says when they first chose their chocolate for her business, she did it by taste alone. "I honestly didn't even know it started in Buffalo until about a year after we bought the place. We were doing research on chocolate and I was like, this is just the best. We tried a couple different chocolates and this was just by far the best.  I started researching it and I said, oh, that's why it's the best, it's from Buffalo."

You can watch more Unknown Stories of WNY here:


Before You Leave, Check This Out