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Matangos Candies :: Our History
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Our History

For over sixty years, thousands of central Pennsylvanians and people all over the world have enjoyed Matangos Candies. Whether they've had our Venetian Mints, or our hand-made Easter bunnies, not to mention our assorted chocolates filled with our own roasted nuts, soft caramels or creamy centers....Matangos Candies is known for its quality chocolates that have remained a staple in most homes for generations.

The founding father of Matangos Candies, Christoforos "Pop" Matangos, was Greek by birth, but raised in Constantinople (Istanbul), Turkey; where he learned the art of candy making at the age of fourteen. Anxious and eager for a better life, he boarded a merchant marine ship around 1914 and when it reached the New York harbor, he jumped overboard. While in New York, he managed to join and proudly serve in the Merchant Marines and was granted US citizenship.

After being discharged from the Merchant Marines, Christoforos saw an opportunity to open a candy store and soda fountain in Allentown, Pennsylvania. He obtained a business partner, and together with this gentleman, Christoforos opened his shop. Unfortunately during the early stages of the Great Depression, as most businesses did, Christoforos' candy and soda fountain business failed. Left with no other alternative, he moved to Scranton and worked for another local candy maker, Davis Candy. Shortly thereafter, Christoforos moved to the larger capital city of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where he began working in the candy kitchen of downtown Harrisburg's then very popular, Pomeroy's department store.

In 1947, eager to work on his own, Christoforos started Matangos Quality Candies, out of his own home on South 15th and Catherine Streets in Harrisburg's Allison Hill district. Recalling the recipes and techniques he learned as an adolescent in Turkey, he made all the flavorful fillings by hand and created mints so thin and tasty that his Venetian Mints remain a signature item more than sixty years later.

From the late 1950s and throughout the early 1970s, Christoforos with the help of his two sons, daughters-in-law and grandchildren developed a thriving candy business with multiple outlets. Christoforos not only coated his confection creations in the tradional milk and dark chocolates, but he was the first US candymaker to coat his candies in the sweet ivory chocolate.

Christoforos "Pop" Matangos died in 1977, leaving his son, Harry and daughter-in-law, Helen along with four grandchildren to carry on with the business. Today, grandson Peter, of the third generation, carries on the mouth-watering tradition with his mother, Helen, who learned the candy business from "Pop", her father-in-law. "He was my dearest friend, more like my father, and even better," she says. "I was a stranger when I came to Harrisburg, and he made me feel so welcome. There are plenty of times that I still miss him very much."

You'll find Helen, a septagenerian, along side her son at the factory store. "I love what I do," she says with a bright smile. Peter admits that he never once thought of going into any other business. "I am NEVER happier than when I'm in the candy kitchen making one of my grandfather's creams or caramels," he says. Helen and Peter continue to make the Easter molds by hand as "Pop" made them; as well as continuing to create the delicious thin Venetian Mints, Figaro and nut roll. And they've also added their own spin over the years, with fresh and tasty chocolate covered strawberries and caramel apples.

Both Helen and Peter look forward to seeing their "old-timers"... the customers that have been coming since "Pop" stood on the front stoop of the store welcoming them to his candy store and offering them samples. And even better, Helen and Peter love to meet the "newcomers"...the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of those "old-timers".

The weathered factory store location of Matangos Quality Candies has remained the same on the inside since Pop's time. . . you'll find the same delicious creations along with some new ones and you'll smell the ever fragrant, cool, chocolate-filled air the minute you step through the door.

More importantly, you'll be treated like family while you're there because that's how "Pop" would've wanted it. Come and visit Helen and Peter. . . and while you're there, taste the tradition of three generations.

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