PARAMUS, N.J. — Linda Manzo of Rochelle Park figured she’d just take a part-time job doing the books for her mother’s business – Hanna Krause’s Homemade Candy in Paramus.
That was 38 years ago.
Today, she runs the place with her sister.
They’re as busy as when Alfred and Hanna Krause, Manzo’s grandparents, opened the store in 1929.
“We’re still here because of word of mouth,” Manzo said. “It goes from generation to generation.
“People come in,” she added, “and tell us their grandma just died and she always came here and they have to get our chocolate because that’s what the family is used to.”
Hanna Krause’s always stays true to the recipes that Alfred devised all those years ago.
Back in the day, he and Hanna, who enjoyed making candy, owned a gas station in Wyandanch, New York. Anyone who bought more than five gallons got a free large homemade lollipop.
When gas was rationed, the couple closed the station but kept making the candy.
“My grandfather would go to the New York Public Library to research chocolate making while he had his gas station,” Manzo said. “All our recipes are original from him.”
Today, Hanna Krause’s features some 200 kinds of candy.
According to Manzo, every last bit of Hanna Krause candy — including carmel and creams, marzipan and peanut butter — is made from scratch. Every ingredient is natural.
Candies are still hand dipped, too. Not machine dipped.
The store’s iconic gingerbread building on Route 17 South, just south of the Garden State Plaza, also hasn’t changed. Manzo said that was her mother, Ingrid’s, idea.
Today, the only changes the family makes are the ones they need to make to comply with new rules and regulations, including labeling laws.
In the past five years, Manzo and her team have dropped a couple of flavors, such as nougat and molasses coconut, that don’t seem to appeal to people anymore.
On the other hand, they’ve also innovated new chocolates, among them carmel with sea salt; key lime cream; lemon cream; carmellow (carmel and marshallow); and peanut butter explosion, or PBX (chocolate-covered carmel, peanut butter and pretzel).
New in the world of vanilla is vanilla crisp, a chocolate-covered sugar wafer, and Krause’s own transformation of the vanilla wafer.
“We made it into a black-and-white cookie,” Manzo said.
Add a constant stream of special orders for corporate gifts, wedding favors, and birthday treats, and Manzo is working far more than full time these days.
A special joy, she said, is to have had her children - and now her granddaughter –working part time to make candies that Alfred Krause created a century ago.