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Glendale’s candyman and wife retire

Posted 4/25/17

By Ed and Bette Sharpe

Glendale Daily Planet

It is a sweet adieu to Joe and Marisa Cerreta, who are retiring from the candy business.

The name Cerreta is synonymous with the annual Chocolate …

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Glendale’s candyman and wife retire


By Ed and Bette Sharpe
Glendale Daily Planet

It is a sweet adieu to Joe and Marisa Cerreta, who are retiring from the candy business.

The name Cerreta is synonymous with the annual Chocolate Affaire, Glendale’s award-wining festival for chocoholics in historic downtown.

The future of the family’s Candy Company on Glendale Avenue, however, is in good hands as the next generation takes over.

"Things there will be even better then ever in the future as the skills of the family members have grown so much stronger and with new tools and ideas," Mr. Cerreta said. "Success is nearly guaranteed."

Although they are gone, Mr. Cerreta said the family motto remains: "Listen and hear your customers, they know what they want and besides no matter how bad we screw it up its still great to eat!"

In the late 1960s Mr. Cerreta was still in class when he married his high school sweetheart, Marisa.

He graduated a few short years later as valedictorian in a joint program of Cornell University, Michigan University, the State of Ohio Education Department and the Cleveland Chief’s Association Food Science Program, held as an extension school in food service at Max Hayes in Ohio.

During his training, he also won the top honors in the country for his culinary skills and was awarded an additional two years of training in Strawsburg, France. By this time he had not just a wife to look after but a son also.

Alas, the Strawsburg, France deal was funded to only cover one person and for Mr. Cerreta, being with his family came first.

Soon after that time his parents and brothers and sisters moved from Canton, Ohio to Phoenix in 1968 to begin the second generation of confectionists. The family is now in its fourth generation of producing the artisan products that they are best known for, spanning nearly 94 years.

Joe and Marisa Cerreta opened a small cafe fountain in downtown Phoenix where they also sold the family’s chocolate products until 1974 when the city of Phoenix need the property for the ever-expanding public transportation system.

Mr. Cerreta returned to his culinary profession as a corporate executive chef specializing in multi-unit, high-rise buildings in Phoenix, Dallas, Indianapolis and of course the World Famous Club 101 in New York City.

In addition to his management duties, he also wrote the original menu’s for Weight Watchers that was just taking off throughout the country at that time.

Tiring of the relocations, the couple, now with two sons, decided to return to the Valley of the Sun and rejoin the families operation.

Moving the company to Glendale in 1989 was a natural for the Cerretas as they lived, worked and played right here in Glendale, and have spent many hours on many different citizen committees looking to improve quality of life and happiness for all.

According to the company website, Mr. Cerreta oversaw production of freshly roasted nuts, taffy and cream-centered chocolates, where he combined modern methods with old-fashion, candy-making techniques to develop popular chocolate-covered creams such as butter, maple, fudge or peppermint, while Ms. Cerreta was the factory tour director who gave daily tours.

Now at the end of their careers, they are retiring yet only to live for other passions, Ms. Cerreta with her renown water colors and Mr. Cerreta’s nearly forgotten passion as a writer and of all things a gentlemen farmer.

City officials lauded the

couple’s contributions to the community.

"Working with Joe and Marisa Cerreta has always been the sweetest part of our day," said Lorraine Zomok, manager of the Glendale Convention & Visitors Bureau. "Cerreta Candy Company is an international destination for travelers and through the years we have truly enjoyed and valued our partnership with this very special couple."

She said Mr. Cerreta served on the Glendale Convention & Visitors Bureau Advisory Committee for several years and was instrumental in the development of key initiatives and programs for the bureau.

"We will miss seeing Joe and Marisa at the candy factory every day," she said. "We wish them many happy travels as their next journey begins."

Ms. Zomok said although the couple is retiring, Mr. Cerreta’s father, Jim Cerreta, Sr. is not.

"The patriarch of the family, lovingly called ‘Mr. C,’ works every day at the factory," she said. "Eighty-seven years young, Mr. C manages the white chocolate production line. He always has a bright smile, funny joke and gives the best hugs in town."

City Special Event Division Manager Martin Dickey said, "Joe and Marisa and all the Cerretas have been such a positive influence on the Glendale Chocolate Affaire in particular, and the city of Glendale in general, and the two of them will be sorely missed by a great many of us indeed. We wish them the best in their retirement. It is well-deserved."

Mr. Dickey said there would be no Glendale Chocolate Affaire without the legacy of Cerretas in downtown Glendale.

"That said, the impact of Joe Cerreta in particular, with what an iconic community festival the Glendale Chocolate Affaire has become, is absolutely undeniable," he added.