Iconic Lancaster confectioner Miesse Candies, which traces its roots to the 19th century, is under new ownership.
Ingrid Natale, who re-established the Pensupreme Ice Cream brand, bought the 147-year-old business from Tracy Artus, who owned and operated Miesse since 2010.
The candymaker occupies a 5,000-square-foot space on the first floor of the Steeple Lofts building at 118 N. Water St. in Lancaster city, which houses its factory and a retail store.
More details of the transaction weren’t disclosed, such as price, but it includes the business, name, inventory, recipes and equipment as well as the lease for Miesse Candies’ stand at Lancaster Central Market.
Not including seasonal products, Miesse makes about 150 different types of candies, including sea salt and regular caramels, peanut butter meltaways, vanilla butter creams, chocolate bark, nut clusters and molded candies.
In a phone interview, Natale said she and Argus love that this is deal involves one woman business owner selling to another. “We’re extremely proud of that.”
She described Miesse Candies as a “really amazing blend” of an authentically historical business with extremely high-quality products.
A lot of the company’s sales are from the market stand, Natale said, but there are also many loyal customers who come into the North Water Street shop.
Miesse Candies also boasts an “incredible” custom chocolate business for weddings, hotels and other events/clients, she said. An example would be chocolate keys for real estate agents to present to new homeowners.
“We use all natural ingredients, such as pure vanilla, local butter and fresh cream,” according to Miesse’s website. “Our rich chocolate is made with real cocoa butter, and all of our fruits and nuts are hand-dipped the old-fashioned way.”
Natale said Miesse just launched a new website adding its seasonal items and wants to focus on getting its social media presence – including Facebook and Instagram – up to date.
The seasonal products feature fun offerings, she said, such as nonpareils with autumn colors; dark chocolate turkeys; and milk chocolate jack-o’-lanterns.
There are sports-themed confections, too: chocolate footballs from 1 inch up to regular pigskin size and even miniature chocolate baseballs, mitts and bats.
And there are “big, show-stopping pieces,” Natale said, including chocolate holiday trees covered with white nonpareils that resemble snow.
“If you need something really exciting for the table” during family gatherings, that will do the trick, she said.
Natale said she’s also excited about getting special molds to expand the part of the business that markets custom candy.
Plus, there are always product questions to decide, she said, such as whether to add extra salted caramels.
A Lancaster institution
Before purchasing Miesse, Natale revived Pensupreme Ice Cream, which has been available since January at a soda fountain in the North Water Street store.
Miesse Candies began in 1875, when Daniel W. Miesse opened a shop in the first block of North Queen Street in downtown Lancaster, where he sold hard candies, ice cream and baked goods.
His son, Roy, went to France after World War I to learn how to make chocolate, where he developed the candy recipes still employed today.
From 1882 to 1942, Miesse Candies was located at 123 N. Queen St. It was then sold to a candy company in York and moved there. In 1947, Roy Miesse Sr. and Roy Miesse Jr., son and grandson of the founder, started their own chocolate candymaking business in York.
They added a Lancaster factory in 1956 by acquiring the Helm Candy plant at 735 Lafayette St. in the Cabbage Hill neighborhood, and eventually closed the York plant.
After several ownership changes, a 2006 fire swept through the Miesse factory, causing so much damage that production had to stop for about a year.
Tracy Artus started as a part-time clerk before buying Miesse Candies in 2010; she moved the business to North Water Street in 2013.
A few years ago, Artus turned part of a retail area at the factory into an ice cream parlor by installing a 1,000-pound vintage soda fountain that had been at Minnich’s Pharmacy in York.
Paula Wolf is a freelance writer