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Business is sweet for candy maker

Jan 29, 2013 07:09AM, Published by Community News Service, Categories: Food+Dining, Business



By Carolyn Steber

Susan Heil began making chocolate 30 years ago when she lived two streets away from her sister, Mariann Stephens, in Chambersburg.

Heil asked her sister for help learning how to use her new Halloween candy making kit. The two girls would meet up in the kitchen to make chocolate together.

“We made a lot of mistakes. It was trial and error,” Stephens said.

Heil wasn’t sold on her new hobby at first, saying how difficult it was to get the chocolate just right. But after many years of practice she finally perfected her skills.

The sisters began bringing their confections to work and to craft shows. The treats were so popular that they decided to turn their new pastime into a business.

In 1992, they opened Tastefully Made in Bordentown. Their first major order was a batch of chocolate swans for a wedding. Once that order came in, they knew the business could be a success.

The pair worked together for four years before Stephens moved on to other things. Since then, Heil has made everything herself without any help from employees.

“I’m one person who just does all,” Heil said.

But she’s not truly alone. The business is connected to her parents’ house, so Heil often pops over for coffee with her mom, Carmella Todaro, before getting right back to work making and packaging her homemade creations.

Heil buys her chocolate in 50-pound cases, which she then melts and pours into plastic molds. She has over 4,000 molds that she can use for anything from weddings to parties to showers.

All of the chocolate is personally decorated with Heil’s artistic touch. For example, she garnishes chocolate crosses with delicate flowers in candy pastel colors. She also offers a popular size six high heeled shoe, complete with a rose made of sugar.

Other molds include Thanksgiving cornucopias, hearts, stars, animals, sports-themes and even a chocolate champagne bottle for New Years Eve. The bottle is hollow, so Heil often hides chocolate roses or wrapped money inside as a surprise.

“I do everything by hand. There’s no machinery,” she said.

There also isn’t much pre-made for sale at Tastefully Made. To buy something, customers must call in or stop by in person to place an order.

“Everything is made special. It’s by appointment so that everything can be made to that person’s specifications,” Heil said.

Christmas and Easter are high production times for Heil. A week before each of these major holidays, Heil sends out information via her mailing list inviting people to come in for an open house. During this time, Heil covers seven tables with pre-made chocolates that shoppers can buy directly.

For the upcoming holiday season, Christmas-themed chocolates like reindeers, sleighs and Santas will be major sellers.

To prepare for holidays, Heil is currently looking over trends from past seasons to see what sold the best. But she says she’ll never do the same thing twice.

“I try to change it up every year,” Heil said.

Aside from poured chocolates in molds, Heil also offers chocolate covered raisins, peanuts and oreos, among others. Her designs are not only delicious but also beautiful to look at.

“They are made really pretty. A lot of people say that they don’t want to eat them because they are so nice,” Heil said.

Tastefully Made is located at 628 U.S. 206 in Bordentown Township. To place an order or to put your name on the mailing list, call (609) 298-0266 or email tastefullymade@comcast.net.



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