Daffin's Candies has gained a national name for its delectable milk and semi-sweet chocolate candy.
In addition to offering its regular line of yummy chocolates Daffin's provides gourmet chocolates through its Jean Marie Collection. This scrumptious collection offers unique hand-molded chocolates with extra special insides containing such things as whole nuts, truffles and their famous Opera Cream.
But most people don't realize the business has a long family tradition. With nearly 1OO years of experience and three generations in the fine art of candy making - the Daffin's name is renowned in the candy world. Paul "Pete" Daffin got his start in the candy business at an early age. If ever there was a man born to make milk chocolate it was Pete Daffin. "The first thing I ever smelled was chocolate," Pete liked to say.
Chocolate has an interesting history, as it didn’t catch on with the public until the 192Os. This wasn't a matter of people not enjoying the delicious taste of chocolate. Rather, it was the debut of air conditioning - which helped prevent chocolate from melting - that pushed chocolate sales through the roof. Prior to that it was uncommon for stores to carry chocolate past April because of the warm temperatures.
The original family store was started in 1903 by George Daffin in Woodsfield, Ohio. It was there that the Daffin legend was created through his eyes. After World War I George's son, Alec, moved the business to New Philadelphia, Ohio. After Alec Daffin's death in 1936 the store moved to Canton, Ohio, where his son, Paul Daffin, took over the operations of the store with the help of his mother Georgia Daffin. When the call came Pete served in the U.S. Army World War II in Italy and other parts of the European theater. Shortly after returning from the war Pete decided to build his own store in Sharon. Backed with finesse in merchandising and a will to succeed the small downtown store was born in 1947.
The shop also served as a factory for creating the delectable candy delights that made the Daffin's name famous. It was Pete Daffin, with the constant help of his wife, Jean, who launched the Daffin Candies name to a new level. With the help of a friend they created their now famous Peter Rabbit - a solid chocolate Rabbit sold during the Easter season. Peter Rabbit was an immediate, mouth-watering hit with the public. As demand for Daffin's candy soared, the couple moved their location to a bigger 20,000 square-foot store in Sharon. At the same time they built a new 30,000 square-foot candy factory - yes, an honest to goodness candy factory. Tours are available at the factory in the neighboring town of Farrell. Since Sharon and Farrell sit close to Interstate 80 and 79 Daffin's store and factory have become must stops for travelers.
A brain child of Paul Daffin was the Daffin's Chocolate Kingdom. The Chocolate Kingdom, located at the retail store in Sharon, included large chocolate animals and two large castles, and an entire miniature village with chocolate houses and railroads. Another fun family activity created by Mr. Daffin was Swizzle Stick Day. On this day an open house is held at the Farrell candy factory and visitors get to see how candy is created. Also, patrons get a free sample of a swizzle stick dipped in fresh candy filling with fresh chocolate dipped on top.
Mr. Daffin passed away in February 1998 and the business is now run by Mrs. Daffin who is president and their daughter, Diane who serves as vice president. Mr. and Mrs. Daffin's nephew, Gary Sigler, is operations manager while his brother Joe, is in charge of tourism promotion. Connie Leon is manager of the Sharon store and oversees retail sales while Sandy Hoover is in charge of fund raising sales. Each piece of Daffin's candy continues to be hand-decorated, which is becoming a rarity in the candy business.
Today, in addition to the Sharon flagship location, Daffin's has retail stores in Greenville, and Franklin in Pennsylvania along with stores in Warren, and Girard Ohio. Also, Daffin's has branched out and supplies more than 42 Hallmark and Specialty stores with their fine chocolate candy.