Nelson’s Candy in Wilton under new ownership

WILTON – Nelson’s Candy Shop has a new owner, but there will still be chocolate bunnies for Easter. They come in several sizes, milk cholate, white chocolate, hollow bunnies filled with jelly beans, and, new this year, a milk chocolate rabbit in a white chocolate basket.

Doug Nelson moved his business into a former hardware store in 1993. He had previously been a little farther along Main Street.

Nancy Veraco of Milford said she had been making candy as a hobby. “I used to make fudge and toffee and popcorn balls. But mostly it was the store I fell in love with. When I first came here a few years ago I thought it was the cutest place. Now I’m having a lot of fun with the candy making.” She added, “It’s a lot easier here with all the equipment, all the molds. It’s such a neat thing that he does. When you see Doug making candy in the big coffee pots, just like his grandfather di 100 years ago.”

She took over the store in January.

Nelson said he started in the candy business when he was 14 in 1958, working for his grandfather at Hampton Beach. “My grandfather started the business in Lowell in 1911.”

Everything in the store is handmade, he said, noting that they have a taffy puller “just like the one they have at York Beach.”

Veraco said her husband wants to learn how to use it, but it needs a new safety switch.

Although Veraco is the new owners, Nelson has agreed to stay and teach her the process. Right now they are into Easter bunnies.

“We probably have two dozen varieties,” she said, “and we are always trying something new, like maybe maple truffles.”

Their maple products come from Mountain Gold in Lyndeborough.

Chocolate comes in a variety of forms: barks, truffles, creams, cups, and patties. A favorite is a dark chocolate wintergreen patty. “There are six to eight different sizes of rabbits, both dark and white,” she said, “plus bunnies on a motorcycle.” Don’t want a rabbit? Try a chocolate moose.

“And we’ll be doing cream eggs,” she said, “using a new fondue.”

And there is also another new twist – a hollow rabbit full of jelly beans. “And we’ll have jelly bean filled eggs.”

Veraco said they would “keep things pretty much the same. We had an electrician in to update some things and added some lights. I want to start doing Internet sales. And I want to use the music part more, get more organizations to use that wonderful space, more community involvement.”

Nelson started Locals Café some years ago, offering a series of well-known blues performers. The series will resume in the spring.

He and some friends started their own group, Sweet Tooth – named for the store, he said – ten or twelve years ago. They play at various local events.

The band was an outgrowth of a long-running Tuesday morning jam session, which “sort of faded away as the players grew old.”

“This is just the sweetest room,” Feraco said. “but it needs to be used more.”

There was a lot more to making candy than she had imagined, she said. “When you consider how much we make ourselves. We’re not purchasing to resell – we make it ourselves. It’s not unusual for us to be here for many hours after closing.

After Easter Nelson was going fishing, she said, “but he’ll be back on Oct. first to teach me how to make candy canes. I don’t have all of his knowledge yet, I have to suck it all out of him.”

She looked around her at the heaps of candy on display. “This is such a happy place to be.”