Tripician’s macaroons are one of the famous flavors at the Jersey Shore, enjoyed for more than a century since Nicoli Tripiciano opened the first of his four stores on the Atlantic City Boardwalk.
Owner Cindy Sabino was a biologist and laboratory analyst before buying the business, now on the White Horse Pike in Absecon, in 2000.
She figured, naively as it turned out, that running a well-established business would be easier than a 40-hour-a-week job.
“I had this idea I’d have all of this free time. That’s not true at all,” said Sabino, 49, of Galloway Township.
But one improvement she knew she could count on was what you might call the sweet smell of success: Now she’s immersed in the scent of freshly baked treats, and the odor of the Atlantic County Utilities Authority sewage-treatment plant where she worked for 11 years is only a memory.
Sabino said running G. Carl Tripician Macaroons is also far more interesting.
“There’s a lot more variety to this. In the lab, it was just routine, routine. Here, there are so many different things to do,” she said.
That variety begins with Tripician’s headline treats. Macaroons come in two distinctly different flavors: coconut and almond.
Almond macaroons are the original. Culinary historians believe they were invented by Italian monks in the Middle Ages, according to The Nibble, a New York-based gourmet magazine.
Because macaroons are made without a leavening agent to make them rise, they are a treat suitable for Passover. That made them popular with Italian Jews, and they spread throughout Europe, the magazine said.
Coconut became an alternative to the ground almonds in the original, and now coconut macaroons are more popular in the United States and England.
Sabino said the company will bake about 100,000 macaroons this holiday season, its busiest time of year. To do that, it has gotten deliveries of 1,800 pounds of almond paste and about 8,000 pounds of shredded coconut.
Macaroons, either coconut or almond, are sold in gift boxes of one to three dozen for $13 a dozen. A third of them are chocolate covered, at $15 a dozen.
“The business we do at Christmas time about equals the rest of the year,” she said.
Tripician also makes seven varieties of biscotti, another exquisite European cookie, from a grandmother’s recipe. These are $1.50 a piece and likewise are available boxed by the dozen, or included in party trays and tins with macaroons and/or brownies.
The store’s brownies are fudgy and chewy, available with coconut macaroon on top, she said.
And the company makes about 30 flavors of fudge this time of year.
Besides its own array of treats, the Absecon store carries other famous shore flavors, including Fralinger’s and James taffy, and Johnson’s Popcorn.
Sabino said Tripician’s sales are about evenly divided between in-store, online and mail order — but with the growth of online sales, they’ll soon surpass phone orders.
The casino industry slowdown due to the sour economy and increased competition had a direct effect on the company, she said, causing it to close its last store in Atlantic City a couple of years ago.
“The store at Trump Marina did rather well for its first four years and helped supplement our business in summer,” she said. But by the time Golden Nugget acquired the casino hotel, the location was no longer pulling its weight.
Sabino said Tripician has another big change in its future.
“We really want to build in another location,” she said, taking advantage of the buyer’s market in real estate to move beyond the high cost of leasing.
“We still haven’t settled on a future location, but we’re almost certainly out of here in the next 12 months,” she said.
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