Filled with nougat, coated with caramel and smothered with pecans, Log Cabin Chocolates’ pecan log, a Baltimore area favorite dating back to 1920, started the whole business rolling for the Rudell family.
“My grandfather bought [the Baltimore business] and their recipes [in the 1950s] specifically for the pecan log,” said Allison Borsella, a granddaughter of Bernard and Edna Rudell. “It’s a real good one.”
Now 101 years later, those rolls and many other chocolate concoctions are still being made following the same recipes that helped establish Log Cabin Chocolates in Fallston as a destination for sweet treats for many families around the region.
“I learned that first Easter [running the business] how people came here … to get their favorite chocolates,” said Borsella, owner of the business since 2018. “That year was really emotional, learning how much this little store meant to people.”
On Sunday, a special celebration, with live music, children’s crafts and candy, will be held at Log Cabin’s location at 1625 Bel Air Road in Fallston to mark the business’s 101st anniversary.
“Last year would have been the 100th year, but you know, COVID,” Borsella said.
Originally located in Baltimore, Log Cabin Chocolates’ location on Route 1 features a small retail store and the chocolate factory, where everything is made and packaged.
“My grandparents had fourth or fifth grade educations,” Borsella said. “They built this building themselves in 1960 and started production here in 1961. I grew up working with my grandmother behind the counter.”
Standing in the quiet kitchen on a Monday morning, surrounded by pots, machetes and hooks, Borsella said her grandfather was “old school.”
“I had never made candy before. Women were not allowed in the factory,” Borsella said. “We changed that.”
A former emergency room nurse, Borsella spent her first year owning the business learning everything she could about making candy from her uncle, Richard Rudell, whom she purchased the business from in 2018. He had managed Log Cabin since 2013, when he took over after Edna Rudell died.
“It is very physically challenging,” Borsella said of the candy business. “I would leave as a nurse cleaner than from here.”
While the business has remained true to the chocolates, Borsella is slowly branching out into new territories. Instead of focusing on supplying grocery stores or wholesale, Borsella is focusing more on personalized items, like corporate gifts. She has formed partnerships with several local businesses, including Zeke’s Coffee in Baltimore, Ale Craft Brewing in Bel Air and Maryland-based Route One Apparel, that allow her store to carry some of their products and vice versa.
“She is one of my favorite businesses to work with,” said Liz Isennock, sales director for Route One Apparel. “She is open to new things and new styles. She is definitely a gem.”
The pandemic has created a variety of new issues that Borsella is doing her best to wade through to be successful.
“Prices have just doubled on things like packaging,” Borsella said. “I can’t find pretzels and my suppliers are out of cherries.”
She couldn’t sell snowballs over the summer — the candy store typically closes for the summer and offers snowballs instead — because she couldn’t find the pumps for the flavorings.
“It’s stuff like that that throws you through little hoops,” Borsella said. “It’s really strange. You do your best.”
Borsella also has to depend on a small staff, with her full-time workers doing double duty during the day — working both in the factory and in the retail store — until the high school students arrive in the afternoon to work in the store.
“We all have different talents,” Borsella said. “I have friends who are electricians and plumbers.”
Though she was born and raised in Fallston, Jade Buddenbohn had never heard of Log Cabin Chocolates until she stepped into its store for the first time two years ago to work in the retail store. A 2019 graduate of Fallston High School, Buddenbohn soon wanted to learn about the business and asked to become a candymaker.
“I had no clue how to how to work with chocolate,” Buddenbohn said. “I learn something new every day. I learned how to fix all the machines.”
With a limited budget, Borsella is holding onto and maintaining the equipment her grandfather and uncle acquired over the years. She has decorated the retail store with chocolate molds and old signs she found in the building’s basement, as well as newspaper clippings about the store and family photos.
“My favorite spot is my little store,” Borsella said. “This is the place most people see. We are open to whomever wants to come in here.”