You have to go back five generations to 1917 to get to the roots of Coons Candy. (photo at left is my dad J.E., my grandpa C.M., my great grandpa J.A. and my oldest sister Joey). Joseph A. Coons worked in a tile yard where they made field irrigation tile. He had developed asthma and working in this dusty place only continued to irritate his condition to the point his doctor told him to find other work “or else”. Sitting around the dinner table, Joe and wife Nellie decided to go into business for themselves. They would “go uptown”, rent some space and start an ice cream parlor. Uptown was a little berg in north central Ohio called Nevada with a population at that time of around 700.
Well, they found their little store front space, began making one of Nellie’s ice cream recipes and low and behold, it sold like hotcakes. Middle of the hot summer, only ice cream store in town – what do you think – good idea? They sold all they could make and business was booming, then winter showed up. Now back in ’17 folks didn’t have heaters in their horse drawn carriages and traffic slowed to a trickle in their little town. Joe and Nellie had a hard winter that first year.
Back around the family dinner table with son Charles (picture above) the topic was, “what can we do in the winter to make a living to get us through to summer”? As luck would have it, the fellow who had sold Joseph his ice cream equipment happened by and said he knew of an old German immigrant who had just arrived in the states. This fellow was (of all things!) a candymaker who spoke no English. The salesman suggested an arrangement where, in exchange for room and board, Joseph A. and Charles M. could learn the art of candy making from this new U.S. resident. And, of course, the salesman had candy making equipment for sale, too.
After some thought, the two decided to give it a try. Into their very home moves this fellow from abroad and as the months pass, he learns to speak English and Joseph and son Charles learn to make candy. Old Fashioned Candy ! From recipes that went WAY back and way back to the old country ! The gentleman moved on one day quite a few months later, seeking fame and fortune with a new language as his tool. Behind he left an enterprising family with a new learned skill. They had become Candymakers. Joseph and Nellie, son Charles and his wife Edith now made ice cream all summer and candy all winter.
Time passes, business grows, a grandson is born and named Joseph E. (photo at left) after his Granddad. He grows up making candy, marries and begins a family and assumes the leadership of the business. He names one of his sons Charles W. after his father making the generations go like this – Joe, Charles, Joe, Charles! (I’m the last Charles, BTW, the fourth generation).
We still use the exact same recipes brought to us from the old world, and we still hand pack our boxed candies the way my Dad, Grandpa and Great Grandpa did.