Over 100 years ago, as Greek immigrants made their way into Chicago, learning how to make confections was a path to making a living in the United States. For Gus Flesor, who came to Tuscola in 1901, making candy and ice cream became a family business when he purchased the Tuscola Candy Kitchen in 1904 for $500.
Renamed Flesor’s Candy Kitchen, the business became a home for Gus’ siblings and children who grew up learning to make sweets, such as the popular Easter Bunnies sold in springtime. While Gus’ kids and families began their own paths in life, the building sat vacant for 30 years before his granddaughters, sisters, Ann and Devon, decided to revive the Candy Kitchen and bring candy and ice cream back to Tuscola. Re-opening in 2004, the sisters had to re-acquaint themselves with candy making as it was not a task that women undertook in previous generations.
Today, Ann dips the candies after a full year of learning the craft, while Devon creates the sugary confections in small batches. As they don’t use preservatives, the candy is made daily, with thousands of pounds of candy being produced annually. Devon describes the rush of making candy during the holidays as a “near-death experience” with all hands-on deck to meet the needs of their customers.
The homemade ice cream remains a popular treat to guests, and while they follow a recipe, the flavors can turn out slightly different each batch. Today, Flesor’s Candy Kitchen is an icon for the townspeople, and is a stopping place for visitors passing through the state. It’s once again a family gathering place, with Devon’s son exclaiming, “It’s just like I left it,” after returning from college.
Customers love the authentic experience, enjoying handmade candies, picking up a book from their library where visitors are encouraged to take or leave a book, and of course, interacting with the sisters. Devon is sure to always say thank you to their guests, while Ann rarely makes it out to the front not only because she’s busy dipping the candy, but because her generous nature tends to “give the store away.” Visitors can delight in their popular “Paul’s Pecans”, as well as caramels, toffee, buttercreams, nougat, hard candies, caramel apples in the fall, and so much more. The sisters state, “We’re proud of what we make. We eat it every day.”