Fun Festive Activity for All Ages
By Tonja Talley
Are you looking for a fun and festive holiday activity to do with family or friends of any age? You might consider a road trip to the Martinsville Candy Kitchen. This quaint candy kitchen tantalizes the senses in the month of December with their signature holiday item: warm hand-pulled candy canes.
Owners John and Pam Badger bought the store in 2004. The Badgers were at a historic preservation meeting when they heard the kitchen was going to close due to
the previous owner’s age and no perspective buyers. “We didn’t have any business experience,” John recalled. “But my wife and I didn’t want to see our hometown candy shop closed either.”
A Greek immigrant, Jimmy Zapapas, founded the candy kitchen in 1919. To this day, John and Pam still use Zapapas’ original gas stove, copper pot, marble slab and metal hook in the creation of their candy canes.
According to Pam, the entire process, from beginning to end, takes approximately three hours, producing batches anywhere from 150 to 300 canes at a time. They offer 6”, 9” and 12” canes, along with ¼-pound bags of pieces. In recent years, the Badgers have also included other designs such as candy cane ribbons and blue and white horseshoes for the Colts fan in the group.
Those placing special orders may request one of the kitchen’s 17 flavors. Their traditional flavors include such top sellers as peppermint or cinnamon, while a more exotic choice of flavors might be clove,
horehound or cappuccino. In 2012, the candy kitchen sold 38,100 candy canes. “I suspect our numbers will be higher than that this year.”
Visitors in December have a hard time deciding which is more exciting, watching the owners make the scrumptious treat or eating it.
What if you have a question while the Badgers are making the canes? Just holler the question out. John is more than happy
to answer any questions.
During the processing, John explained how the characteristics of sugar make the formation of the cane possible. When sugar is heated, it melts and becomes a workable syrup. The syrup can be flavored, manipulated, colored and shaped as it cools.
Because orders are shipped daily to places like New York, Arizona, Italy, Haiti and
Afghanistan, the Badgers can be seen making their candy canes most every day in December. If you would like a personal viewing for your family or group, John suggests you call ahead for details. “We make canes at all hours on Saturdays and Sundays, plus in the evenings during the week.”
For those customers desiring a different sweet, the Martinsville Candy Kitchen carries 29 varieties of ice cream, along with handmade chocolates and fudge. However, it will be the warm handmade candy canes that will continue to bring you back.
Tonja Talley has called Center Grove home since 1993. An 11-year bi-lateral lung transplant survivor, Tonja enjoys speaking on behalf of the Indiana Organ Procurement Organization. She also volunteers for the CF Foundation, byTavi, and her church.