The Cerreta Candy Company, at 5345 W. Glendale Ave., Glendale, is a family-owned and operated business that has been open for more than 60 years. The candy factory sells over 400 pounds of chocolate on an average day, and it only picks up around the holiday season.
The company was started by Jim Cerreta Sr., who learned the art of candy manufacturing from his father-in-law. Cerreta Sr. passed the art and the company to his six children that operate it to this day.
Jennifer Cerreta-Szewc, one of the two daughters in the family, runs the social media pages for the company and loves to be in business with her family.
“It’s in our blood... my grandfather... [started] the company back in Ohio in 1923. And my parents were boyfriend and girlfriend from fifth grade on all the way up to 75 years of marriage,” Cerreta-Szwec says. “And it all started with them... and a little piece of candy in the classroom.”
The first of the family’s candy companies, Ben Heggy’s Candy Company, is in Canton, Ohio. The Cerreta family made the move to Arizona in the late 1960s because of the good weather, and started their company.
“There’s a lot of camaraderie,” Cerreta-Szwec says. “We play together, we work together. So, it’s just... natural.”
During the pandemic, the company had to think of new ways to adapt and keep the business alive. Cerreta-Swec says the company relied on different delivery methods, like Grubhub and curbside pickup, and operated with a skeleton staff at times.
Nothing could stop them from getting their candy out there. The shop offers an array of candies from chocolate to taffy to almond bark.
“We’re noted for our French Mint. It’s our signature piece. It is an after-dinner mint with a green... pastel coating and the inside is your chocolate peppermint,” Cerreta-Szwec said.
The company uses a cooling machine that features a spiral that takes the chocolate from the bottom to the top of the spiral. If the spiral is laid out, it’s about a mile long.
Maria Armento, an employee of the company for eight years, has enjoyed her time there.
“They literally make you feel like a family,” she said. “We always have Thanksgiving dinners together. They just go above and beyond for their employees... I’ve been at 20 odd jobs now, and nothing’s compared to this job.”
Besides their candy, the company offers tours of the candy-making process, birthday parties and custom items. For the holiday season, they offer different types of festive candies, like a bar of peppermint chocolate that features a minty wafer.
“The candy speaks for itself,” Armento said. “They put a lot into their candy.”
Editor’s Note: Lydia Curry is a student reporter at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications.
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