Inside Ann Arbor's very own chocolate factory

Zingerman's Candy Manufactory opened Oct. 29

Freshly coated Zzang! bars on their way to the cooler (Photo: Meredith Bruckner)
Freshly coated Zzang! bars on their way to the cooler (Photo: Meredith Bruckner)

ANN ARBORZingerman's Candy Manufactory opened this fall just in time for Halloween, and as the holidays roll around, business is booming.

What sets it apart from mainstream candy-making is that every candy is handmade with precision and care. It may slow down the process, but owner Charlie Frank says eating fresh candy is a whole new experience and delivers a lasting impression. He sources his ingredients with high standards, which helps add to the flavor.


Zzang! bars cooling in a mold before being hand cut and coated in chocolate (Photo: Meredith Bruckner)

Frank's love affair with candy began when he was young. He would save money every week to buy candy bars with the change from his piano lessons. He studied at the Culinary Institute of America and worked as a pastry chef for several years. It was only while working at Zingerman's Bakehouse that he had the vision to open his own candy shop.

He knew he wanted to be a partner in the unique Zingerman's business model. 

"The Path To Partnership is a very thorough and rigorous process and helps anyone going through it to clarify what they want to do and what it's going to take to realize their vision, and I really appreciated that," Frank explained.


Hand-packaged Zzang! bars ready for eating (Photo: Meredith Bruckner)

"Visioning is a really big part of the Path to Partnership, and also everything we do at all levels throughout the organization, so I'd say that learning how to harness the power of the visioning process has been a huge benefit to me in the business."

As for the business, Allison Schraf, retail store and marketing manager, it's doing very well. 

Until October, Zingerman's Candy Manufactory only sold wholesale candy from its kitchen. But since opening a storefront, foot traffic continues to pick up.


Retail store and marketing manager Allison Schraf (Photo: Meredith Bruckner)

"We have all sorts of folks visiting us," Schraf said. "Families with kids, people looking for client and teacher gifts, and people who are really curious about candy and really excited about being able to watch us make it through our window into the production kitchen."

With holiday season in full swing, Schraf described popular gift items.

"We have several special items for the season that are new or are only available for a short time like Peppermint Bark, giant SuperZzang! candy bars with Hanukkah or Christmas wraps, and gorgeous pottery pieces made by Frank's mom, Gloria Frank," Schraf said.

"They're beautifully wrapped with our delicious treats inside, and we're calling them 'Gloria's Gifts.'"

See the creation process of its most popular candy bar:

Learn more about Zingerman's candy on its website.


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