The sugar mixture boiling in the copper kettle was not quite 325 degrees when we arrived at Schimpff’s Confectionery. As soon as it reached is “magic temperature,” we would watch Warren Schimpff make peppermint candy with same equipment his great-grandfather used over a hundred years ago in this Jeffersonville, Indiana, candy shop.
Schimpff’s Confectionery history
According to census records, the Schimpff family made candy across the Ohio River in Louisville as far back as the 1850s. The current Schimpff’s Confectionery opened 125 years ago, in 1891. It is one of the oldest, continuously operated family-owned candy businesses in the United States. Warren Schimpff, great-grandson of founder Gus Schimpff, and his wife Jill, took over the reins of Schimpff’s Confectionery in 1990. They expanded the business into the building next door to add a demonstration area and museum.
Watching the candy making demonstration
As Warren made peppermint candy on our visit, Jill narrated, explaining the process.
Schimpff’s Confectionery is famous for their hard Cinnamon Red Hots. (We brought some home with us, and it is addicting.) However, the day we visited a few weeks before the holiday season, they were making peppermint candy.
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When the sugar mixture was up to 325 degrees, Warren and fellow candy maker Stephanie carried the copper kettle from the 85-year-old stove and poured the amber-colored mixture onto the antique cooling table.
Warren added peppermint oil and began flipping the mixture over and over again to both cool the candy down and to integrate the peppermint oil. The peppermint scent permeated the air. Jill pointed out that you can smell the peppermint outside on the street. An exhaust fan sends 15 percent of the scent outside, luring passers-by into the shop.
When the candy was cooled to the right consistency, Warren cut a chunk off of it and added red food coloring, which would become the stripe. The larger, amber-colored chunk was put on the pulling machine. The pulling process adds air to the candy, and as the air increases, the candy turns from amber to white.
Twisting and rolling the candy
Then next step is to join the red and white candy pieces together and then roll the log with the help of a machine.
The first project was to make 12-inch pinwheels for a local gingerbread house. They used a string to pinch a chunk of the log off, which produces the pinwheel effect. Candy maker Joey stretched and patted the pinwheel disks into the 12-inch size.
Next on order were candy sticks. The log just kept getting pulled longer and thinner to the appropriate size, then cut into the candy stick lengths. The candy makers must continue to roll the candy sticks back and forth until they’re cooled, about twenty minutes.
Jill offered everyone watching the demonstration a sample of the still soft, warm peppermint candy. Wow, was that a treat for the taste buds!
Museum, candy store and soda fountain
Following the candy demonstration, we wandered through the museum, checking out antique candy containers and advertisements.
Afterward we stepped through an open doorway to the candy store and lunchroom, which still has its original tin ceiling and a 1950s soda fountain. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to stay, but someday we’ll go back to try a chocolate soda.
If you visit Schimpff’s Confectionery
Schimpff’s Confectionary, located at 347 Spring Street in downtown Jeffersonville, Indiana, is open Monday through Saturday. Check the web site for hours, tour information and other details.
Accommodations: We stayed at the Market Street Inn Bed and Breakfast during our visit to Jeffersonville. Find the best accommodations deal, compare prices, and read what other travelers have to say at TripAdvisor.
Disclosures: The Clark-Floyd Counties Convention-Tourism Bureau and Schimpff’s Confectionery hosted our visit to Schimpff’s. However, any opinions in this article are my own.
This article contains an affiliate link, which means if you book a room through the TripAdvisor link above, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.
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3 thoughts on “Schimpff’s Confectionery: Peppermint Candy Made before Your Eyes”
How fun is that! I love these types of activities (seeing how stuff is made). Amazing to see those giant pinwheels. Thanks for sharing!
I, too, love seeing how things are made, Sarah, especially fun stuff like peppermint sticks.
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