WAYNE, N.J. -- Laurie's Homemade Candies has been providing delectable chocolate treats to Passaic County for decades -- and will help make the upcoming holidays beautiful and tasty -- but owner Laurie Walker's training almost didn't happen.
Laurie's Homemade Candies has been in business since 1978, first in Midland Park, then moving to Wayne in 1981. Walker now has four to five employees who help make an assortment of homemade and hand-dipped chocolates items, right on the premises.
Walker learned her art at the Philadelphia School of Candy Making, she told Daily Voice. "My teacher was 78, and she taught one student at a time."
Marie Meade had been teaching since the late '40s, according to an archived 1974 Delaware County Daily Times article, but she'd moved to part-time teaching in her later years.
In 1977, when Walker began at the school, Meade had recently had a bad experience with a student: "She actually didn't want to teach me," Walker said.
"But my mother talked her into it, told her that I'd work hard and that she wouldn't regret it. And after a couple weeks, it was fine."
Meade boasted, in that 1974 article, that she'd taught students from all across the country and helped many begin home businesses, in her three decades of teaching candy-making.
When Meade died -- a few years after Walker finished her instruction -- the school died with her.
"It was an honor, that I learned from her," Walker said.
The candy-maker explained that, after you learn the basics, you then develop your own techniques and recipes, over time. One of her specialties is something called "Happy Apples" -- apples covered first in caramel, then dipped in chocolate, then decorated with a variety of candy faces, depending on the season.
Happy Apples are available for most holiday seasons, including Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine's Day and Easter.
Laurie's Homemade Candies is stocked with goodies far beyond the apples, however, including a huge variety of chocolate candies and novelties like a 10-pound chocolate turkey.
Walker couldn't stay on the phone long, though: they were busy at work for Thanksgiving, working on batches of chocolate-covered fruit she calls "Laurie Berries" -- a variety of strawberries and other fruit, dosed with "our secret sugar sauce."
But she is confident about the secret to her success. "We do a quality product at a reasonable price ... and who can resist chocolate?"
And working for yourself? "It's sweet. Sometimes it gets a little sticky, but it's sweet."
The candy shop is at 600 Berdan Ave. -- next to her husband's nursery business, Glenn Pond Nursery, in fact. He's currently busy as well, but with holiday trees and wreaths instead.
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