A Sweet Family Business Steeped in Family Tradition

Anna BauerOld Candy Molds from Louisville

Hidden away off of US127 near the northern county line is a candy factory steeped in history and family tradition.  Bauer’s Candies is owned by a fourth generation candy maker who sells the incredibly delicious caramel biscuit called Modjeskas.

Bauer’s Candies was started way back in 1889 in Louisville by the great grandfather of the current owner, Anna Bauer.  Anna grew up around candy, playing around her family’s old store in Louisville where they made a multitude of different candies and chocolates.  “As a kid, I used to love to hang out at the candy store,” she said as she reminisced about how she would always eat the most expensive candy.

Her family was and still is renown for making Modjeskas.  A caramel and biscuit type candy, the Modjeska was originally named after famed Polish actress from the late 1800’s, Helena Modjeska.  Anton Busath, a competitor to the Bauers, saw Helena perform on stage in 1883 and asked her if he could name the caramel biscuit after her.  Consenting, the Modjeska candy would become one of the earliest celebrity endorsed product in the nation.

Six years later, when the Bauers started making their own caramel biscuit, they couldn’t use the name until 1947 when Busath’s Candies burnt down, and they asked the Bauers to continue making the candy with the Modjeska name instead of rebuilding.

Anna clearly remembers making her first Modjeska when she was only five years old.  With much warning by her father not to pick up the candy if it falls while dipping it in the 240F caramel, she ended up in her excitement dropping and picking it up to only burn her fingers, badly.  “I won’t forget it,” she said.

As she got older, her father, who had a full time job working at various racetracks around the region, decided to shut down their Louisville store, build a new house in Mt Eden, and no longer produce candies.  Saving a few pieces of equipment, the Bauers moved to their new house and stored the left over equipment in their basement.

But, Modjeska lovers would not soon forget their favorite candy.  The family started receiving letters asking them if they would make just a few for the writer of the letter.  Soon enough, Anna’s father reluctantly restarted the candy business out of their basement.

Shortly afterwards, Anna was back helping in the candy business, although not willingly at times.  She remembers having to wrap candy as a punishment as a teenager. Anna said, “I remember I used to say if I get out of here, I’m never going to wrap a piece of candy in my life!”

The old saying, “never say never” would come true for Anna.  Having left the business to study at college, she would marry and have her first son two years later.  Working as a full time employee at an insurance company, she had a strong desire to be a stay at home mom but didn’t have the finances to do it.

Looking back at her parent’s candy business which was still being run out of their basement, she thought that would be a perfect compromise job.  Her father initially rejected the idea, wanting her to do something more than just candy, but he eventually decided to let her help out in the business in a bigger way than she planned.

Anna started making candies as a profession at 21 while her mother did business side.  The company would keep growing with just a strong word of mouth presence.  However, when her mother passed away, she ended up with entire business.  Just a short time after, she had an amazing opportunity, meeting representatives from Cracker Barrel at her first trade show.  Soon enough, her candies would be sold all around the state and region.

The candy business was taking over her family’s house in Mt Eden.  When her father passed away, she decided to buy land off of US127 and build the factory that they have now.  With more space, they have been able to expand into creating different candies besides Modjeskas and even produce marshmallows in-house.  Anna recalls a number of crazy “I Love Lucy” moments while trying to make marshmallows with them going all over the factory.

Anna, who is the only female owner of the family business, has two sons of her own, both involved as the next generation.  Her product, which is always produced with the finest ingredients, is becoming more popular, and she is outgrowing her current location.  “I’ve been blessed beyond measure with opportunities,” she said while thanking her great staff and family who have been so supportive.

If you like to try some of these delicious treats, the Downtown Lawrenceburg Visitor Center has them available.

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Posted in Family & Community, Food & Drink, History & Heritage.

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