STAFFORD TOWNSHIP — Life has been sweet for the Eismann family for the past 85 years — literally, of course.
The family has owned Lucille’s Own Make Candies for more than eight decades, and has passed its secret chocolate recipe from generation to generation.
What’s in the recipe?
“Ingredients,” Nathaniel Eismann responds.
Four generations of Eismanns are working in the stores the family owns in the township and in the Brant Beach section of Long Beach Township on Long Beach Island.
As business has changed, some things have stayed the same: The stores thrive on holiday and summer business, and the cost of supplies is always fluctuating.
Janice Eismann, 47, a third-generation owner, said she was 9 years old when the store was built on Route 72 west in Stafford Township. The Long Beach Island store was built in 1965.
She said that through the 1970s, the store ran two chocolate coating machines five days a week. One machine is now used three times a week. The chocolate is made inside the Route 72 store. From the fudge to chocolate-covered pretzels and nuts, the smell of chocolate is unmistakable once the doors open to the store.
She said the Brant Beach store did more sales volume in the 1970s than the stores do now since the recession.
But all the family members agree that people are always going to want chocolate. The Eismanns distribute their products predominantly on the East Coast.
“People have said they’re not giving up Christmas and Easter. They’re just not going to do it,” Nathaniel Eismann said.
Janice Eismann said each day she opens the shop and works alongside her 52-year-old brother, Nathaniel.
“We still get into it and argue like brother and sister,” she said, laughing.
Katherine Eismann, Nathaniel’s 24-year-old daughter, said it is nice sometimes to have family around at work. Katherine said she has worked at the stores since she was about 14 years old.
“But my dad and aunt remember everything from when they were kids,” Katherine Eismann said.
All of the Eismanns live within two blocks of the shop in Stafford Township, Janice Eismann said. Brother Karl and mother Ginger also work at the store on a daily basis.
The business started 85 years ago when the Eismann family’s first store opened in Moore, Pa., and the second store debuted in Tacony, Pa., outside of Philadelphia.
Owner Larry Eismann, 78, said the Philadelphia-area store was opened during the Great Depression. He said those were the days with 270 candy stores in Philadelphia — now there are only about 12.
“We made friends with the owners of the ice cream parlor down the street, and we bartered supplies because of the food rationing that was happening,” Larry Eismann said.
This confectioner in January received the Paddle Award from the Retail Confectioner’s Association of Philadelphia in recognition of his dedication to regional confectionary history.
He said the Tacony store was purchased during Prohibition and the previous business was also a candy store — well, kind of.
“The candy store that was there before was just a front and they were selling alcohol in candy boxes out of there,” he said.
Every day, Larry Eismann eats breakfast at the Route 72 store. He picks at the chocolate in the store afterward, but he starts the day with eggs and oatmeal. His son and daughter said that most days their father naps in the store’s office.
Hard work, sweat and cooperation are the recipe that has kept the business afloat for the past eight decades, he said.
“Everybody in the family speaks to everyone, everyone has an opinion and everyone has a vote. No spouses are involved in the business,” he said.
And as far as making a marriage work while running a business and taking care of a family, Ginger Eismann said it takes just that — work.
“It got to the point that we didn’t argue in the marriage, but we argued about the business. When he gave me an engagement ring, I told him, ‘I’m not going to change. You take me as I am,’” she said.
Contact Donna Weaver:
Follow Donna Weaver on Twitter @DonnaKWeaver