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I popped into Fort Smith’s Kopper Kettle Candies after lunch down the street and was pleasantly surprised by the offerings. Admittedly, I didn’t know much about Kopper Kettle. But downing a few pieces of thin dark chocolate bark laced with pecans had me wanting to learn more about the company that dates back almost one hundred years. There are currently two storefronts, with a spot in Van Buren to go along with Fort Smith.
“The dates vary from family member to family member, but it goes back to 1925 and it has always been in the Greer family,” says operations manager Thomas Greer. He continues, “My grandfather started making candy in 1925 from recipes that his grandmother had taught him. He then honed his craft by working in many candy companies in Louisiana and Texas until he and my grandmother opened their first shop in the 30s. They were going well until April 1942 when sugar was rationed, effectively killing their business. My grandfather was too old to serve in the war, so he worked on the railroad until the end of the war. He had moved the family back to the Fort Worth area but then finally landed in Van Buren beside a busy stretch of highway in the early 50s.
My grandmother was instrumental in moving the business to Arkansas. She was a hard worker and could always make the best out of everything. We are still in the same building today that my grandmother and grandfather lived and worked in. The business went through hard times when the interstate bypassed us. We became a local business with a few tourists.
My father, Tommy Greer, and my mother, Berry Ann, through hard work and sheer determination kept the business going and saw it flourish. We are now on four generations of the Greer family, many of whom we have lovingly adopted and called family. We are proud of our sweet history in the River Valley.”
And from the sound of it, a lot of the magic takes place at the Van Buren location.
“We blend chocolates here, but we buy chocolate from all over the world, and we use that blend to cover the candies that we make here. Many of the formulas for our candies date back to the late 1800s. We have been buying from many of these chocolate companies since the 1930s,” says Greer.
After enjoying the chocolate bark at the Fort Smith shop, I bought some more to take home, along with a box of assorted chocolates. Those, too, didn’t last long. According to Greer, other popular items include peanut brittle, Ozarkies (vanilla cream rolled in pecans and covered in chocolate), pecan treats (caramel and pecans covered in chocolate), and seasonal favorites like chocolate-covered strawberries and Karamel apples.
As for a few of Thomas Greer’s favorites?
“We make a chocolate truffle that is out of this world. It is like a chocolate milkshake in a bite. I also enjoy the salted caramels, but those have changed over the years. I have gladly been sampling candies here for 48 years. So, my favorites might change by the time we print this.”
Maybe it’s time to order some or stop by Kopper Kettle Candies to see which ones are your favorites!
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