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Hercules Candy Company was founded over 112 years ago by my grandfather, Robert Andrianos. We are the third generation to run the business. In the late 1890's, my grandfather, a teenager, arrived at Ellis Island, as most immigrants did. He came on a boat straight from Greece. He eventually landed in Boston where he learned the art of candy making at a place called the Boston Candy Kitchen.
After learning the trade, he moved to East Syracuse to open a candy store on West Manlius Street in East Syracuse with his 2 brothers. They named their original store the Boston Candy Kitchen. Robert bought his brothers out around 1904 and ran the store on West Manlius Street until the Great Depression hit in 1929.
When the Depression hit, Robert had to move the business to his home, at 209 West Heman Street, due to the lack of available ingredients for candy making. He renamed the store "Hercules Candy Company" , in honor of his father in law, when he moved it.
Robert and his wife, Maria, had 7 children, 2 girls and 5 boys: Hercules (named after his grandfather), Steven, John, Nick, Daniel, Georgia and Elaine. They each had a job that was their specialty. Hercules was good at pulling out the ribbon candy. John was a good all around candy maker. Nick was good at cream centers, brittle and twisting ribbon candy. My father, Steven, was good at candy canes, hard candies, brittle and cream centers. Dan dabbled in brittle and cream centers before he left for college. Elaine and Georgia were in charge of packaging and sales. Bear in mind that these are the jobs the children did when they were old enough. Before that, Robert and Maria did all of the candy making themselves, side by side.
Over the years, each of the brothers took a turn running the business. My father, Steven, was the last brother to run the business after his father passed away in 1962. My father closed the store in 1972.
I started making candy when I was 12 years old. I had always dreamed of running the store. When I was 21, in 1977, I saved up $500 and bought some sugar and some chocolate and reopened Hercules Candies in the same location that it had been for years, using the same equipment and utensils that had sat idle for 5 years. It took me a long time to master the ribbon candy, to make it thin enough and to get the flavors just right. I had learned how to make many different kinds of candy from my family and was eager to try them all. Our faithful customers were happy to see Hercules Candies operating again.
My Aunt Lois (Uncle Herc's wife) helped me those first few years. Over the years, various relatives have lent a hand in the candy making to keep Hercules Candies an Andrianos family tradition. Until 1988, Hercules Candies was run seasonally from November until Easter. In 1988, we installed air conditioning and have been operating year round ever since.
Candy making is a form of art, in some places, a lost art. We make candy the way it was made in the early 1900's - all by hand without any machines. We roast our own nuts on the premises and purchase our ingredients directly from the source from which they originate - not through a middle man, so that the freshness and quality of our candy speaks for itself.
Now my wife, Terry and I run the business together, as my grandparents did over 112 years ago. Sometimes the more things change, the more they stay the same, although I have to admit that I thank my lucky stars for our gas fueled candy stove - my grandfather had to cook his candy on a coal stove! Terry and I are also busy raising our 3 children (the 4th generation). We have yet to determine what each of their specialties will be.
So that's my story. Just remember, when you purchase candy from Hercules Candies, you are not only buying the very best candy, but also a piece of history.
Thanks for stopping by!