Sampling creamy, crunchy, luscious chocolates is all in a day's work for Bel Air business owners Patricia and Melinda Mosser.
The sisters, partners in a new candy shop on Main Street called Nanna's Chocolates, taste test truffles, jellies, fruit creams, nut clusters and chewy caramels made by local chocolatiers before choosing the sweets that will fill their own cases.
"We've tasted everything and we've selected what we like best," Melinda said.
"We pick what we like and we also make suggestions," said Patricia, adding that they are still looking for a local, licensed candy maker to make molded chocolates. "And we have made some changes based on customer feedback," she continued. "The chocolatiers we work with are small so you have that kind of one-on-one communication."
The two women, in their early- to mid-30, opened the shop on May 23 in the historic Van Bibber House at Main Street and U.S. 1 in Bel Air.
The candy shop is bright and cheery, with walls of cream and lilac and a distinctive aroma of chocolate.
Canisters sit on the mantel over the fireplace, which -- fortunately for the jelly beans in them -- no longer is working. A kaleidoscope of 40 flavors of gourmet jelly beans includes everything from buttered popcorn and black forest cake to juicy pear and strawberry cheesecake.
"We have the largest selection of Jelly Bellies in the county," Patricia Mossersaid proudly.
Side tables are filled with gummy sharks, tarts, mints, monster jawbreakers, nonpareils, caramel corn and candy fruit. In the silver and white glass-front cases is a mouth-watering display of raspberry truffles, chocolate covered espresso beans, butter almond toffee, peanut butter melty creams, cashew snappers, coconut clusters, cordial cherries and meltaway mint bark.
"The idea of Nanna's was born back in February around Valentine's Day," Patricia Mosser said. "We decided that Bel Air needed a nice local type of chocolate store."
"We felt that something was missing here," Melinda Mosser said.
Because they always are looking for new challenges, they decided to open Nanna's Chocolates, naming the business for their grandmother, Muriel Foutch, who "always had yummy things for us when we visited her as children," Patricia Mosser said.
To promote their business during the slow summer candy
season, they sold snowballs. Patricia Mosser, who previously did management consulting work, has been in charge of daily operations, while Melinda Mosser continues her work as a commercial and residential real estate agent.
"Chocolate is a nice product to be around," Patricia Mosser said. "Usually people purchase chocolate for happy reasons."
They want their business to be service-oriented with customized packaging by the box, basket or mug for individual and corporate clients.
Nanna's will do tiny chocolates gift boxes with company logos and chocolate business cards to be given to clients. They'll fill bow boxes with candy as favors for weddings, showers, rehearsal dinners, Sweet 16 parties and bar mitzvahs. They also are developing delivery service.
"The idea is to have that personal touch," Patricia Mosser said.
That's just what Lisa Friedman was looking for when she stopped by the shop last week to purchase a thank-you box of chocolates for a co-worker.
"I was really happy to see a small place instead of having to go into a mall," she said. "That's so impersonal. I like the specialized candy boxes because they say something special."