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June 2, 2022
The History and Future of Miesse Candies
In 1875, Ulysses S. Grant was President of the United States, Thomas Edison was on the cusp of inventing electric light, and Miesse Candies had just started making the most delicious sweet treats.
As one of the oldest continuously operating confectionery companies in the United States, Miesse knows a thing or two about confections and chocolate.
“I bought Miesse because it was part of our family. My grandmother always had nonpareils in the candy dish,” Head Confectioner and Proprietor Tracy Artus said.
Miesse has a rich history in Lancaster County, tracing back to a time before there were paved roads or telephones. Miesse’s first storefront was located on North Queen Street.
But the company didn’t start out by serving up the delicious chocolate treats it’s now known for. In the early days, Daniel Miesse took his horse-drawn wagon through the Lancaster streets to sell caramels, taffies, nougats, and their house-made ice cream. At the time, chocolate was generally thought of as an aristocratic treat and was just starting to become more accessible to the public.
When Daniel’s son returned from his time as a medic during World War I, he convinced his dad to try coating his confections in chocolate, just as he had witnessed abroad in France. The new treats, covered in Wilbur chocolate, were a huge hit, and the company quickly outgrew its first location, moving production to 735 Lafayette Street in Lancaster City in 1956.
In the 50 years following, the company grew and Miesse became the goto spot for Lancaster residents to satisfy their sweet tooth. In 2006, a fire devastated the production facility causing approximately $2.25 million in damages. After a pause in production and a period of rebuilding, Miesse was back in business. The survival of Miesse was a testament not only to the resilience of the company, but the supportive community that rallied around their beloved chocolate shop.
It was during this time of rebuilding Tracy began working part-time for Miesse in 2010 and partnered into the company later that year. On January 1, 2011, Tracy “ purchased the historic confectionery, and in 2013, Tracy acquired a new retail and production space at its current location of 118 North Water Street, bringing Miesse confections to a central location in Lancaster City.
“Everybody loves Miesse,” Tracy said. “Everybody walks in the door, and they have some story about their grandmother, their mother, their dad, their uncle, somebody who used to work at Miesse at some point in time because it was such a huge company.”
Miesse holds a special place in the hearts of chocolate lovers across the county, and a new chapter is on the horizon for the confectionery.
In 2018, Miesse revived a 1935 Liquid Carbonic soda fountain that serves ice cream, cream sodas, egg creams, banana splits, and milkshakes all year long. With this equipment installed in the front of the shop, Miesse has brought back an authentic ice cream parlor feel to Downtown Lancaster, making this the perfect place for folks to escape the heat of summer and enjoy a nostalgic sweet treat year-round.
Miesse Candies & Ice Cream Parlor is proud to serve ice cream from another local historic company, Pensupreme, in their parlor. This premium ice cream is all natural, sustainably sourced, grass-fed, and free from artificial coloring, growth hormones, and antibiotics.
For Tracy, it only made sense to bring together these companies and merge both the legacy and future of the two companies, in part because she has fond memories of enjoying their ice cream as a kid.
“Everything is personal, and that’s what you hear every time somebody walks in our downtown shop and parlor,” Tracy said. “We love our community.”
“We are proud to revive this historic brand and offer our ice cream for sale at Miesse Candies & Ice Cream Parlor. Celebrating the Pennsylvania heritage with another historic brand is exciting for all of us!” – Ingrid Natale, owner of Pensupreme