If you’ve been to Ocean City, you’ve probably stopped at one of the two Dolle’s Candyland (www.dolles.com) locations on the Boardwalk. For more than 100 years the family-owned business has been meeting the salt water taffy cravings of vacationers — a not-to-be-missed tradition for many families.
The fourth-generation business (generation five is still a little young) boils, pulls and packages approximately 350,000 pounds of the sticky stuff a year. With 22 flavors, vacationers have a lot of choice, but according to family member Anna Bushnell (fourth generation), the No. 1 salt water taffy favorite is … peanut butter. Runners up? Chocolate, vanilla and strawberry. No flavors have been retired, which means you can still get molasses mint when the craving strikes.
The candy is still cooked in copper kettles at the company’s Wicomico Street location, though the kettles are a little bigger today than they were in 1910.
Dolle’s prides itself on buying local when possible and in supporting the local community. Candies it doesn’t make, it buys in either the U.S. or Europe, where the quality of the product is better, the family feels, than some that comes out of Mexico or China.
In addition to the Ocean City stores, the family owns Pony Tails in Chincoteague, which it acquired in 2007. Dolle’s is also developing a thriving wholesale business. According to Bushnell, growth is the goal, and the wholesale arena is where they see a lot of potential.
At the heart, however, is their commitment to being a family business in a family-oriented community. For Anna Bushnell, Dolle’s is “not just a job; it’s a lifestyle.”