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
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
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.