C’Mun Sons, We’ve Chocolate to Buy
Munson’s, Bolton (and 9 other storefronts)
February 16, 2013 (and many others)
Everyone in Connecticut knows Munson’s, right? They are, by far, the biggest and most far-reaching chocolatier in the state. After all, there are Munson’s stores in Simsbury, Newington, Mystic, Farmington (in Westfarms Mall), West Hartford, Orange, South Windsor, Glastonbury, and Foxwoods Casino.
Of course, when I say “Connecticut,” I’m excluding the NY, MA, and RI parts of the state.
(That’s a joke, people, relax… and eat some chocolate.)
Of course, simply going to the storefronts isn’t as cool as going to the factory store in Bolton. It’s right off of 384 on Route 6 and is almost always a stop for us when we’re on our way out that way.
The factory store is the best because of one thing: Factory seconds. Here, you can buy the slightly messed up looking stuff. It all tastes the same as the “good” stuff. (I’m not saying we don’t go to our local Munson’s in West Hartford, but I have been to the Bolton location more. Weird, I know.
Not only is the Munson footprint huge by local chocolatier standards, their history is long and entrenched. Let’s learn some of it from their website:
Munson’s Chocolates was founded by Ben and Josephine Munson in 1946 and originally titled “The Dandy Candy Company”. With little more than a dream they set out to build a business that would reflect their commitment to quality and service.
Aw man, why did they change the name?
Their first store was located in Manchester, Connecticut behind a tailor shop. It was there that they would make batches of wafers and ribbon candy from the sugar rations they received following the end of WW II. Soon after, they moved their base of operation to a horse barn. They converted the barn into two parts: a kitchen and a retail store.
That’s kind of gross, actually. But the 50’s were a magical time and even horse barns were all rainbows and buttercups… or so I’ve heard.
Ben would start each day by mixing up batches of creams and caramels from his “secret recipes”. By late morning he would hand dip each and every piece in chocolate. Finally, they would make their way to Josephine who carefully packaged the assortments and prepared them for sale.
“Secret recipe creams” from a horse barn? I’m suspicious.
The results of their efforts were chocolates so incredible that they became legendary in the small town. Soon everyone knew if you wanted superb chocolates, you simply had to go to Munson’s.
Let’s be honest here… How many chocolate makers were there in Manchester 60 years ago though?
The rest they say, is history. Today Munson’s is a third generation candy family, and Connecticut’s largest retail chocolate manufacturer.
Hey! I guessed right earlier!
And while the company has grown considerably since those early days, the standards that began with the first pound of candy have remained. The company is now run by Ben and Josephine’s son Robert, who is President and CEO. Robert is joined in the business by his daughter Karen and son-in-law Jim.
And that’s rad. All my favorite things on CTMQ are essentially small, family operations. But Munson’s, being the size that it is, employs a ton of teens – at least at the Bolton location. But know this: I have always received excellent and friendly service. They seem a little over eager at times, but that’s okay. They’re probably all hopped up on sugar and caffeine.
My beautiful wife hates this picture. But I like the action shot. And by “action” I mean “sneaking in a truffle before getting to the car” action.
Munson’s has a huge selection of treats. Like, too much sometimes. The display cases at the Bolton location go on forever. (As I write this and look at yet another picture of Calvin with his face pressed against the glass, I’m thinking I should put together a page of “Calvin With His Face Pressed Against The Glass Of Chocolate Trail Pictures.) All the usual suspects are available, as you’d expect.
Munson’s doesn’t really do any of the wacky stuff like a few of the other Chocolate Trail joints do. They don’t have to. But that’s not to say they’ve stagnated or become comfortable with the old standbys.
Not at all. I particularly enjoyed the Route 6 Toffee Crunch, but it seems they don’t make it anymore. Perhaps the association between Route 6 (aka “Suicide 6”) and “crunch” didn’t play well with customers – all of whom probably know someone who was maimed or killed within 3 miles of the Bolton factory on Route 6.
(Speaking of which, leaving Munson’s in Bolton to head east on 6 is, not surprisingly, death-defying.)
But how about the sublime beer brittle they make? In a really cool partnership, Connecticut’s Hooker Brewery and Munson’s have come together to each produce an excellent product. Hooker puts out the Chocolate Truffle Stout using Munson’s chocolate and Munson’s does a beer brittle using a Hooker lager. (That’s the Liberator Doppelbock in the picture, which is a lager, so I’ll believe that.)
I never promote my beer pages, but figure I will right now. I review Connecticut beer on occasion too. Here’s the Chocolate Truffle Stout one.
Anyone who knows me knows I love these sorts of local partnerships. So props to Hooker and Munson’s for getting this one done.
And, hopefully, continuing to do it for years to come.
Munson’s probably isn’t THE best chocolate in the state, but It’s certainly way better than anything you’d buy in a CVS or whatever. Actually, it’s even better than that. It’s really very good – and very cool that they have grown to the point where they can have so many outposts. So for good, solid, expected chocolate treats, go to a Munson’s and skip the Whitman’s.
Thumbs up from Damian!