Andria's Candies making Christmas chocolate for 60 years

Photo by Greg Eans, Messenger-Inquirer.com | geans@messenger-inquirer.com David Atkinson stands at the front counter at Andria’s Candies on Thursday. The business is one of downtown’s oldest.

Christmas is just four days away.

And Andria's Candies, Chocolates & Coffee, 217 Allen St., is filled with the aroma of chocolate.

For many, that aroma means Christmas -- even though the store makes chocolate year-round and has been since 1959.

David Atkinson, the current owner, has been making Christmas candy as fast as he can since mid-November.

"Christmas is the No. 1 candy holiday," he said. "Valentine's and Easter are tied for second."

And his No. 1 candy is bourbon balls, a treat that was originally created in 1938 by Ruth Hanly and Rebecca Gooch, founders of Rebecca Ruth Candies in Frankfort.

Actually, at Andria's they're called "Kentucky Bourbon Chocolates."

"Mr. Andriakos (the store's founder) wanted them to sound more upscale," Atkinson said.

Thomas Andriakos, a son of Greek immigrants, opened Andria's on July 9, 1959.

In 1991, he was 76 and ready to retire.

His children weren't interested in the business.

And local lovers of his homemade taffy, mellow mints, bourbon candy, English toffee and assorted chocolates were worried that the city's last old-fashioned candy store would be closing.

That's when David and Eva Atkinson stepped in and bought the store, name and recipes from Andriakos.

He agreed to stay on to teach them the business.

And 28 years later, Adkisson is still carrying on the tradition in what he calls "The Sweetest Place in Western Kentucky since 1959."

"There are a lot of birthdays in December," Atkinson said last week. "And people are buying a lot of gifts for Christmas."

He said, "We're getting more known for bourbon balls than anything else. They could be a separate business."

Atkinson has sold everything from a single box of bourbon balls to his largest order this year of 55 boxes for one customer.

"We have people call from all over, and we ship to them," he said. "I've shipped to Hawaii and once I shipped to England. But it cost more to send it than the candy cost. But we don't ship locally. Frank (White) and I do it all ourselves, except when my daughter comes in to help."

Atkinson said, "We don't tell which bourbon we use. It's not the most expensive, but it's not the cheapest either."

Asked how many gallons of bourbon he uses a year, he said, "Let's just say I beat a steady path to the liquor stores."

Bourbon balls are No. 1, but assorted chocolates come in at No. 2, Atkinson said.

"We can make assortments of whatever you want," he said.

Atkinson said, "We have kinds of candy that we haven't made in years. We should start making them again."

The store has up to 100 varieties of candy in different seasons.

The chocolates include Heavenly Hash, marshmallow, turtles, cherry, black walnut clusters, orange dark, cashew, Coconut Haystax, raspberry, maple, almond and a lot more.

Most of the store's recipes date back to Andriakos or maybe even his father, Louis, or even farther back in the candy-making family.

And they're still in demand today.

Keith Lawrence, 270-691-7301, klawrence@messenger-inquirer.com

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