MANCHESTER, NH — This weekend Van Otis Chocolates celebrates 80 years of making award-wining chocolates and countless memories at its newly renovated store located at 341 Elm Street.
Among the confections that helped the locally owned business thrive is the Swiss Fudge. According to Marc Amiet, owner of Van Otis Chocolates, the Swiss Fudge is one of their top-selling items. It is so popular that many people refer to Van Otis as The Fudge Company.
But the award-winning Swiss Fudge is not what it seems.
“I’m from Switzerland and there is no fudge in Switzerland. It is an American confection. Also, the Van Otis Swiss Fudge isn’t actually fudge, because it doesn’t contain cream and sugar,” he said.
Amiet finds this amusing. So what is this heavenly, melt-in-your mouth Swiss Fudge really?
“In the chocolate worlds it is called a meltaway,” said Amiet. “But, to better describe the smooth texture, I also hear it referred to as the inside out truffle.
The recipe for Swiss Fudge was developed by Van Otis’s original owner, Evangeline Hasiotis in 1959. As for the Swiss name, Amiet was told that Hasiotis was an admirer of Swiss chocolates and by naming her most popular confection ‘Swiss’, it represented high quality.
Based on it’s popularity, Hasiotis’s Swiss Fudge has been part of countless memories in the Queen City for the past 80 years.
“We had a woman in the shop recently that teared up when she saw the display of old Van Otis Chocolates boxes. She said she used to receive the chocolates as a child,” said Amiet.
Van Otis has been a part of the Manchester community’s collective memories for eight decades and this weekend the renovated shop will hold an open house. Amiet says many of the old Van Otis Chocolates elements were refurbished, like Hasiotis’s candy cases. The shop now has a whimsical, more inviting candy shop feel to it than it has in the past.
Hasiotis opened Van Otis in 1935 after completing a two-week program at the Fanny Farmer confectionery school in Boston. She started selling a small line of chocolates from her family’s apartment on Spruce Street where the Verizon Wireless Arena stands today. The store had no official name and was known in the neighborhood simply as “the candy store.”
Hasiotis’s business thrived and in 1958 she bought property at the corner of Chestnut and Cedar Streets. Evangeline, called ‘Van’ by her friends decided to call the store Van Otis Chocolates, a derivation of her first and last names.
On Friday, September 18 and Saturday, September 19, from 9:30 a.m. – 7 p.m., candy lovers are invited to Van Otis Chocolates to sample a selection of chocolates, enjoy the chocolate fountain and register to win a gift basket. There will be a coloring contest for children and they will receive a gift if they wear their favorite sports uniform. On Saturday, get into the fall mood by purchasing a caramel-covered candy apple and decorate it yourself.
Throughout the year Van Otis Chocolates offers classes , tours and fun events like candy-cane making. Stay on top of what is going on by following Van Otis Chocolates on Facebook and signing up for the e-newsletter here.
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