Winfrey's Fudge and
Chocolates/VisitingNewEngland small business partnership - Local Small Business Stories
An Unforgettable Visit to Winfrey's Fudge and Chocolates in
The Story of How a Local Family Found Sweet Small Business Success
Delicious handmade fudge from Winfrey's in Rowley. Photo source: Winfrey's Facebook fan page.
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Something undeniably wonderful happens when walking into Winfrey's
Fudge and Chocolates in Rowley, Mass.
The incredible aroma of chocolate saturates the retail store, thus
tone for an experience as happy as that proverbial kid in a candy
store. Not only for the customers but for staff
working behind-the-scenes in the attached factory at this family-owned
business that dates back to 1979. Back in the day, however, Stuart and
Christine Winfrey had limited space, making fudge in their home
basement (more on that shortly).
Beyond the beautiful current-day Rowley retail
shop and the manufacturing facility, the Winfrey family also opened
retail stores in Stoneham in 1995, Wenham in 2008 and Beverly in 2013
that are thriving, to this very day.
Newly-painted retail store at Winfrey's in Rowley. Photo
credit: Jill Winfrey.
Everything here is handcrafted and made with love. To go
the lines that typically describe chocolate as "addictive" and a "sweet
craving" and fudge as "melt in your mouth" would miss the point
of Winfrey's versions. Although made with simple ingredients, the
process to create a perfectly-balanced, full-bodied candy taste is a
very complex art and science that Winfrey's continues to master. Just
like the unmistakable sound of a musically-talented family
singing together, the Winfrey family creates subtle notes of candy flavors that come together in perfect harmony. Winfrey's Fudge and
Chocolate is like the gold
standard of how fudge and chocolate should taste.
Sample of handmade chocolates at Winfrey's Chocolates.
"The quality remains the same since the beginning" said daughter and
Winfrey, who manages store operations, marketing
and helping in the office as part of her multi-tasking responsibilities.
"We never cut costs. Our chocolate is a very high quality chocolate from the Ivory Coast. Everything is hand deposited, hand decorated. We make the creams, the caramels, the butter crunch... We make everything. Customers love the taste. We do, too!""
Why All Seasons Call for Sweet Treats from
Winfrey's Fudge and Chocolates takes on a year-round status
as a happy
place for lovers of sweets, but particularly becomes that much sweeter
from the fall to spring. Winfrey's sells at local fairs in autumn --
most notably, one of its neighbors, at the Topsfield Fair. Winfrey's also goes beyond the
family name on its sweets by creating private label products for retail
business around New England. Locals and travelers can also find
products at well-known New England businesses including Edaville
Railroad in Carver, Mass., Mann Orchards in Methuen, Mass., Zeb's
General Store in North Conway, N.H. Elia's Country Store in
Wilmington, Mass., and Danvers Butchery in Danvers, Mass.
The colder season warms up when customers
make a pilgrimage for Winfrey's Thanksgiving delights...
Turkey-shaped chocolates from Winfrey's. Photo source: Winfrey's
Chocolates Facebook Fan Page.
Or during the Christmas holiday season for its wonderfully packaged and
Colorful Christmas gifts from Winfrey's. Photo
source: Winfrey's Chocolates Facebook Fan Page.
Valentine's Day brings about love of a lifetime gifts in the form
Chocolates and Winfrey's go together hand-in-hand for
Valentine's Day. Photo source:
Winfrey's Chocolates Facebook Fan Page.
Easter hops along at a fast pace at Winfrey's with more custom-made
Easter-themed chocolates from Winfrey's. Photo
source: Winfrey's Chocolates Facebook Fan Page.
Chocolate has no seasonal boundaries however, as America's favorite
sweet treat pastime does quite well the rest of the year at Winfrey's
with a seemingly endless variety of offerings..
A sea of chocolates from the production room at Winfrey's
While Winfrey's skillfully and artfully adapts to each
they also have a solid foundation for customer needs including baby
showers, birthdays, teacher gifts and other special occasions.
From Basement to Brigham's to Bigger Business
Jill, Christine, Mark, Scott and Stuart Winfrey. Photo
source: Winfrey's Chocolates Facebook Fan Page.
The Winfrey's story comes from humble surroundings. Stuart and Christine
began manufacturing cream and butter fudge on a gas stove in their
basement the day they brought their sons, Mark and Scott, home from the
hospital after they were born
prematurely at four-and-one-half-pounds each. Stuart and Christine (a nurse by trade) left their
knowing "their lives revolved around their (the kids) every need."
Building a business, taking care of the kids. Photo source: Winfrey's web site.
Mark and Scott found better health, but life challenges persisted on
career end of things. Soon realizing there was a choice between heating
fudge and heating
their home, the Winfreys tried selling their candy to anyone who would
buy it. Fortunately, many local candy stores purchased the fudge, thus
allowing the Winfreys to warm up both their home and business.
Demand became so overwhelming that Christine and Stuart rented a
foundry space as a kitchen in Danvers, Mass. Using wooden paddles to blend the cream and sugar into fudge and heat
in copper kettles over open-flame gas stoves, the process led to
something transformational. Brigham's, a former landmark New England ice cream
chain based in Arlington, Mass., loved what the Winfreys
were doing and commissioned them to
create its fudge. Soon, Christine and Stuart generated 1,000 pounds of
fudge for Brigham's every two weeks.
While the business expanded, so did the Winfrey family with the birth
of Jill in 1981. From that time on, the Winfreys continued their
small business journey by growing its manufacturing and wholesale
capabilities with 23 varieties of fudge, 18 flavors of salt water
and 10 fine chocolates.
The Rowley facility, born in 1990, allowed for enough space to meet
the needs of the expanding business, including a 500 sq ft. retail
store. Soon, the Winfrey's added more space to the building to allow
for even great manufacturing and retail capabilities.
State-of-the-art manufacturing area at Winfrey's.
Today, Winfrey's makes more than 23 varieties of cream and butter
fudge, 50 different fine chocolates, and 22 flavors of salt water
taffy. The Winfreys have also named candy after all of their grandchildren!
Delicious meltaways at Winfrey's in Rowley.
The rich chocolate fudge continues to be the most popular
"It's a family secret on how the fudge is made," said Jill. "I can't
tell you what my dad did to come up with the chocolate fudge, but it
has a little bit of a different taste and it's great. It is our biggest
While tradition continues in the form of chocolate fudge, creams,
caramels, nougats, turtles and other long-time favorites -- as well as
seasonal items like candy canes and peppermint bark -- Winfrey's Fudge
and Chocolates continues to update and innovate. Jill's "Wicked Dark
Wicked Good" 72 percent dark cacao bars deliciously and certainly meet 21st-century
Behind the Scenes at Winfrey's Chocolate Factory
Working the factory production line at Winfrey's Chocolate in
2019 brought in the 40th anniversary of Winfrey's Fudge and Chocolates
and a fitting transition in ownership. Stuart and Christine made sure
to carry on the family legacy by naming Jill, Scott and Mark as
co-owners. The three kids who grew up in the industry know that
ownership goes beyond just a title and, thus, work extremely hard to
carry on the grand tradition.
the shipping and packing department. Scott serves as the
production manager. As previously mentioned, Jill
manages store operations, marketing and helping in the office as part
of her multi-tasking responsibilities.
Jill Winfrey at the Rowley retail store.
The staff is vital to efficient operations. A sampler: Vinny Gaudenzi,
a friend of the Winfrey's dating back to his third
grade days, is the assistant production manager and an expert candy
Vinny Gaudenzi (right) at the chocolate factory.
David Trainor, the fudge production manager, is a Peabody High School
graduate who has been with Winfrey's since 1981. He once manufactured,
singlehandedly, more than 3,000 lbs. of cream and butter fudge in one
David Trainor is a prolific candy and fudge maker.
Paul Martin, with the company since 1990, oversees the shipping
and receiving department. With fine attention to detail and
organization, nothing gets by him.
Paul Martin works hard behind-the-scenes at Winfrey's.
Sam Scholofield works in retail and has been at Winfrey's since 2000.
Tricia Hanlon, another long-time employee and Rowley native, is known
as the "glue" behind the front office at Winfrey's with her friendly,
familiar voice as an order taker and one who keeps everything in place.
Sixty-five employees make Winfrey's a special small business whether serving the
public, behind-the-scenes or through delivery.
Delivery truck at Winfrey's in Rowley.
"We all have the same drive and interest," said Jill. "This is our
life. This is our name."
Winfrey's, as Part of a Fun North Shore Day
The North Shore of Massachusetts stands as a fabulous New England
vacation destination. Rockport, with its beautiful coastal village-like
setting, features a charming Main Street, as well as quaint, narrow Bearskin Neck that
Rockport Harbor. Between the Main Street and Harbor is filled with art
studios, mom and pop shops and restaurants. Gloucester features a cute
little downtown, fresh seafood, beaches, lighthouses and a deep
culture. Salem is best known for its witch attractions but also
features the downtown cobbletone Essex Street Pedestrian Mall
with shops and restaurants. Also at Essex St.: the Peabody Essex Museum
with its wonderful
collection of historical and cultural art covering maritime American,
Asian, Oceanic and African art. Crane's Beach in Ipswich is one of New
England's most expansive, beautiful ocean beaches. Woodman's
of Essex is reportedly the birthplace of the fried clam (1914) and simply
fabulous for that dish, as well as lobster and other seafood. It is a
New England seafood shack icon.
So you can have your fudge and chocolates to go with your taste of
New England, too!
Outside at Winfrey's Chocolates in Rowley. Photo credit: Jill Winfrey.
While people travel around the world to enjoy, as part of
their vacations, chocolate factories with theme parks to famous
chocolatiers in France
, there are countless
locals who know that sometimes the greatest treasures are right outside
one's own back door. Winfrey's is, no doubt, one
of those special places. After all, the taste buds never lie when it
comes to identifying the best kind of fudge and chocolates.
The fudge clearly surpasses the quality of many famed country
stores' versions in New England and actually services
some of these quaint, old-fashioned retail destinations. And while so
many local chocolate businesses do a tremendous job creating
fabulous-tasting chocolate in the six-state New England region,
Winfrey's seems to always come up in conversation amongst
lovers of fudge and chocolate. That is validated by face-to-face talks,
online reviews, best of awards and the blessing of tasting the
freshness of the candies from the Winfrey's shops. The long-established pride of ownership makes it that much better a place.
"This is a family business," said Jill. "Growing up, it was like a
fourth child in the family. Lots of care has always gone into the
business and that is why people keep coming back."
Winfrey's Fudge and Chocolates is
40 Newburyport Turnpike (Route 1), Rowley, MA. Tel. (978) 948-7448
115 Cabot St., Beverly MA. Tel. (978) 922-7448
41 Main St., Stoneham, MA. Tel. (781) 279-7448
143 Topsfield Rd., Wenham, MA. Tel. (978) 948-7448.
Winfrey's Web site: http://www.winfreys.com
Facebook fan page: https://www.facebook.com/Winfreysfudge
Instagram page: https://www.instagram.com/winfreysconfections
Yelp Reviews: http://www.yelp.com/winfreys-fudge-and-chocolates-rowley
about this amazing small, local business near Winfrey's:
best tasting whoopie pies at the Topsfield Bakeshop/ Whoo(pie) Wagon in
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