Flesor's Candy Kitchen

In Tuscola, two sisters inherited their grandfather's candy recipes—and carried on a family tradition.

in Illinois Makers, Food & Beverages
February 21, 2018

| words

After immigrating from Greece in the early 20th Century, Gus Flesor decided to tackle the American Dream his way: by opening a confectionary.

In 1901, Gus purchased what he saw as the perfect building in the perfect town of Tuscola, Illinois, for what would become the home for Flesor's Candy Kitchen. Word traveled fast about Gus' delicious candies and soda fountain drinks, and it didn't take long for Flesor's Candy Kitchen to become a favorite gathering place and cornerstone of the community. The store's success enabled Gus to reunite with his brothers by bringing them overseas to Tuscola to join the business. Over the years, Gus' pride for his store was matched only by his pride for his family and adopted hometown. But in 1975, Gus' son Paul closed the business, and the family tradition seemed destined to fade.

But not if Gus' granddaughters had anything to do with it. Almost a century after Gus first opened his shop, Ann and Devon Flesor decided to reopen Flesor's Candy Kitchen in the very same building. What's more, the sisters were able to buy back the original marble soda fountain, as well as many of the booths and displays. As it turned out, nearly everything from the old store had been sitting in an antique dealer's warehouse, as if patiently waiting for Gus' legacy to return.

Soon after the restoration of the building began, old-timers began stopping in to reminisce about the good old days, when they would peer into the candy cases as kids. Other folks had no problem telling the sisters the proper location for the popcorn machine. Everyone had a snapshot of Flesor's in their imagination. It's then when the sisters realized they were not only restoring a candy store—they were also rekindling memories for an entire town.

Today, walking into Flesor’s is like stepping back to Gus' time. The sisters still use their grandfather's recipes, from hand-dipped chocolates to butter creams to caramels to toffee and Paul's Pecan Favorite (a delicious twist on traditional turtle chocolates). They're all here, proudly displayed in the same mahogany candy cases.

And you betcha the old-fashioned soda fountain is still serving up malts, floats and phosphates. Everything including Chocolate Cokes, Green Rivers, Suicides and sundaes are made with the Flesor family's homemade ice cream.

There is no doubt Gus would be honored to know that his family’s sweet tradition is being carried on by his granddaughters, motivated by their memories of helping grandpa in the kitchen and their mission to delight a whole new generation of confectionary connoisseurs.

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