Life is Sweet at Dinstuhl’s Fine Candies
It’s three weeks before Valentine’s day, and the packing room at Dinstuhl’s Fine Candies is awash in red and pink cellophane.
While I haven’t given any thought to the upcoming holiday, the crew at Dinstuhl’s started preparing for the celebration right after Christmas, filling heart-shaped boxes with truffles, caramels and pieces of their signature cashew brittle.
All of Dinstuhl’s candy is made fresh from scratch and packaged by hand. Caramel is stirred in giant copper kettles. Chunks of strawberry nougat are placed on a conveyor belt that takes them through a chocolate waterfall (for coating) and then down to a woman named Rose, who uses her finger to swirl an “s” onto each piece.
After they leave the kitchen, the candies are sorted and packed, some going immediately onto the shelves of Dinstuhl’s retail stores and some packed into gift boxes that range from three ounces to seven pounds.
If you can imagine it in chocolate, Dinstuhl’s can probably make it happen. They’ve made chocolate boxes for engagement rings, giant bars of white and dark chocolate for weddings and custom shapes for businesses. For those with dietary restrictions, the kitchen is certified Kosher, and there’s a special area where the staff makes dairy-free chocolate.
Needless to say, the kitchen smells amazing, all sticky and sweet and dark. The vibe is more family dinner than “I Love Lucy”.
The company, which was founded in 1902, still employs members of the Dinstuhl family. When I visited, Andrew, a 5th generation Dinstuhl, was in the kitchen, sorting pretzels. One of the other kitchen employees, Tommy Washington, has been making candy for 54 years.
As serious as Dinstuhl’s is about their work, making candy is a lighthearted affair. Everyone working in the kitchen knew everyone else, and the joking and smiling extended to the check out counter in the shop.
“We sell happiness,” manager Becky Dinstuhl told me. “When you’re making chocolate, it’s hard to be sad.”
If you’d like to get your hands on some of Dinstuhl’s candies, you’ve got options. They’ve got locations in Germantown, in the Laurelwood shopping center in East Memphis, and on Pleasant View. If you’re not in Memphis, you can order online.