They haven’t made ribbon candy for years. But the children and grandchildren of the late George and Betty Widman carry on. They have changed with the times. And in these days before Christmas, their chocolate chippers draw orders from near and far.
Right now, there’s a box of Widman’s chippers on the way to Italy. And Widman’s store has customers scattered everywhere who still keep sending orders.
The kitchen for the store is downstairs at Widman’s. On the main floor, the small and intriguing shop is full of tempting items that attract the young and old. At the counter, customers are required to choose something and have a sample of the tempting display of candy.
Dan Widman says the kitchen crew is busily turning out chippers. Year after year, the cooking crews branch out. They enhance the potato chips with anything from caramel or toffee as well as chocolate. In autumn, there are chocolate-covered apples.
George and Betty
The late George and Betty Widman started making candy in Grand Forks in 1949. And they changed with the times. Their ribbon candy is now long gone, but a second and third generation of their family still make and sell sweet wares here. They have moved on.
The foundation for the Widman family as candy makers began in the 1800s. That was when William Widman, grandfather of George Widman, opened a shop in St. Paul. Then in 1911, George’s father opened the Widman shop still operating in Crookston.
George moved Widman candy into Grand Forks when he opened his shop here in 1949. With his wife, Betty, a native of Chicago, he raised six children and continued making candy here.
While other candymakers were going to machinery, the Widmans kept watching their kettles in their gleaming kitchen. Ninety percent of their recipes was developed in their heads.
They came up with their own chocolate-covered cherries with stems sticking out. They brought out specialties for the changing seasons of the year. And they started using Red River Valley potatoes to make their chippers.
Some years ago, the late George Widman declined to be specific in an interview about his sales and volume of business. He simply said he considered the ability to send six children to the University of North Dakota would be a measure of Widman’s success.
Widman’s Candy Shop
Where: 106 S. Third St., Grand Forks
Hours: 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, closed Sunday
Report card: A unique home-owned candy store known for its hospitality and fare, including chocolate chippers. The candy goes all over the country at Christmas time.
Reach Marilyn Hagerty at (701) 772-1055 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.