Ocean City —
When you walk into the Rauhauser’s Own Make Candies on Asbury Avenue, you know Easter is on its way.
“Easter is my favorite holiday,” says Nancy Blomdahl, owner of the downtown candy store. “I think it’s such a pretty season in here.”
Colorful baskets – some full of specialty candies, others empty for a personal mixture – are stacked in the front window. Chocolate and fudge bunnies, surfer and boat candy figurines and pastel lollypops are sprinkled around the festive shop. Candy cases are interspersed with holiday treats, such as chocolate coconut-covered bunny tails, and the back candy case is dedicated strictly to the holiday, full of bright jellybeans, crunchy malt eggs and sour gummy rabbits.
Even though the holiday arrives on March 23 this year – earlier than it has been in decades – the staff at Rauhauser’s is ready.
“After Christmas, we usually take two weeks off. This year, we only took one week,” Blomdahl says. “We came back, cleared out the Christmas items and started getting ready for Easter.”
Blomdahl owns Rauhauser’s with her husband, Donald, and their son, Rodney, makes the candy. Other family members work in the store, and Blomdahl’s young grandchildren love to visit – and sneak a few sugary treats. It’s a family affair at Rauhauser’s, and the rest of the staff is like family.
“We have a great sales crew. A lot of times I’m told on the street how nice my staff is,” says Blomdahl.
A favorite item at Rauhauser’s is the solid Easter eggs, filled with either coconut cream, buttercream, chocolate nut fudge or peanut butter. The store estimates it makes around 1,500 of these eggs for Easter – that doesn’t count hollow eggs, penny eggs or any of the other varieties. The eggs come in different sizes with both milk chocolate and dark chocolate shells.
Customers love that Rauhauser’s will also write on the eggs – free of charge.
“They can have whatever they’d like written on the eggs,” Blomdahl says. “A lot of people put names.”
Egg-writing isn’t the only free thing at the store. Giftwrapping is free for boxes of candies and nuts. The store also sells candy-filled tins and trays.
At Easter, baskets are full, wrapped in cellophane and ready for the Easter bunny, but customers are welcome to pick up their own basket and figure out what they would like to fill it with themselves.
Hollow chocolate figurines are a popular item every year. Rauhauser’s boasts a wide variety, including bunnies, lambs, boats and, of course, eggs. A newer addition that has gained popularity in the past few years are the “Surfer Dude” cartoon surfer figurines. This year, Blomdahl added a few “Surfer Chicks” to the mix.
“All of our figurines are popular,” she said.
Although Blomdahl was able to point out some popular items, she says it really depends on the customer. Everyone has his or her favorites.
“People love the bunny tails,” Blomdahl says. “They’re marshmallow caramel dipped in dark chocolate, dipped in white chocolate and then rolled in coconut.”
The solid eggs are an Easter favorite, but the large sizes are sometimes too much for customers. That’s why Rauhauser’s also offers eggs in bite-size pieces.
“Little eggs that are an inch and a half or two inches are popular. They come in the different flavors – peanut butter, chocolate and vanilla fudge, butter cream, toasted butter cream,” says Blomdahl. “Customers can buy them buy the pound and mix and match whatever flavors they want.”
Back this year are fudge bunnies – plastic bunny-shaped containers full of vanilla or chocolate fudge and decorated with icing and jellybeans to create a cute bunny face. Blomdahl says the store had the bunnies a couple of years ago, and after a brief hiatus they were able to bring them back this year.
When asked why she thinks her store is a popular downtown destination, Blomdahl says, of course, it is all about the candy.
“There aren’t a lot of candy stores around that make their own chocolate,” Blomdahl says. “It’s quality chocolate. It takes a while.”
The candy at Rauhauser’s is handmade with no preservatives. Blomdahl’s granddaughter, Alissa, 9, doesn’t seem to worry about preservatives very much. She knows why her granddparent’s candy store is her favorite.
“It tastes really, really good,” Alissa says with a smile.
Easter arriving so early is not necessarily a bad thing, although Blomdahl says it isn’t good for St. Patrick’s Day.
“It’s only six days before,” she said.
Nevertheless, Rauhauser’s didn’t downplay the Irish holiday. The store is still stocked with plenty of its popular Irish potatoes (coconut cream centers rolled in cinnamon). There are shamrock-shaped jelly candies and green lollypops. There are packages of gold-foil-covered chocolate coins. Two years ago, the store started selling chocolate-covered Irish potatoes.
“We can’t forget St. Patrick’s Day,” says Blomdahl. “Easter is pushing it out of the way, but we still have plenty of St. Patrick’s Day candy.”
With Easter just more than a week away, there isn’t much time left to assemble a unique, tasty basket. At Rauhauser’s, the only problem a customer may have is deciding over the plethora of quality candies.
“Anything you would think of for an Easter basket,” Blomdahl says, “we have.”
Rauhauser’s Candies is located at 721 Asbury Ave. and can be reached at (609) 399-1465. There is a free parking lot directly behind the store at Seventh Street and Central Avenue.