For 130 years, a historic Clark County candy maker has become a destination for just about anyone in America with a sweet tooth. Schimpff’s Confectionery is the oldest retail business in Jeffersonville and co-owner Warren Schimpff says the company has remained family owned at the same location since Gustav Schimpff Sr. and Jr. opened it in 1891. “We have a good story to tell here,” Schimpff says. “It’s a story of real Americana.”
Schimpff’s wife Jill says they continue to use the same recipes for some of its candy that were used in the late 19th Century, the most famous of which continues to be the Cinnamon Red Hot.
“Cinnamon Red Hots are our signature piece,” Jill Schimpff tells Around INdiana Reporter Mary-Rachel Redman. “(We make) 22,000 pounds of Cinnamon Red Hots in a good year.”
Schimpff’s Confectionery makes a variety type of candy, from caramel chocolate, hard candy, peanut brittle, English toffee and more.
“The first candy machines were made in the 1860s,” said Warren Schimpff. “The candy table up there dates from 1891. Everything in here has a story.”
Schimpff’s also boasts one of the only candy museums in the U.S., chock full of American candy collectibles from some of the first original pieces of candy ever made to nostalgic packaging from a different time.”
But the iconic Jeffersonville retailer is not just about candy; Schimpff’s also includes a deli with an old-fashioned soda fountain serving malts, milkshakes, sundaes and more.
“The say that our taste buds make us remember things. It’s the taste of nostalgia,” said Jill Schimpff. “We have kids from two in parents arms to seniors that come because this is what they remember from their childhoods. We’ve had four generations in the store at the same time.”
And southern Indiana’s king of candy isn’t just a Hoosier favorite. Schimpff’s has garnered national attention from the Food Network to the History Channel’s “Modern Marvels.”
As small businesses struggle to stay open amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Warren Schimpff remembers a time that was even harder on his family’s candy business, imparting a few words of wisdom for mom and pop shop owners everywhere.
“The 1937 flood on the Ohio River, water went to the middle of second story in this building. They lost everything, but they rebuilt and persisted,” said Schimpff. “Hang in there is about the best I can say. Hopefully you’ll survive.”