Decades old Glendale candy company gears up for Easter

GLENDALE, Ariz. – The Cerreta Candy Company is getting ready for spring. With Easter around the corner, chocolate is in high demand at this family-owned and operated business.

“Every year, we produce over 5,000 pounds of chocolate a day using machinery from when my grandpa was around,” said Tony Cerreta, third-generation owner of Cerreta Candy Company. “The holidays are always our busiest time of year. We usually end up selling out of a lot of items, so make sure to come in early before the crowd.”

Since 1968, Cerreta Candy Company has been one of the most well-known chocolate factories around the Valley. Some would say it is the heart of Downtown Glendale.

“In recent years, my grandpa, uncle, and dad have retired, so it’s just been the folks here that have been keeping things running, and me. Since COVID has hit, it’s been tough to keep up with production, but we’ve made it work,” Cerreta said.

Founded by Jim Cerreta Sr., the candy company has been passed down to his children and grandchildren. His son, Joe Cerreta, used to oversee the production of the freshly roasted nuts, taffy, cream-centered chocolates, and old-fashioned candies.

Joe’s brother Jerry, nicknamed “The Chocolate Man,” is responsible for the caramels and cream-centered candies. Their other brother, Tony, works the backend of operations, managing creams, caramels, pretzels, cherries, marshmallows, and their chocolate coatings. Joe’s wife, Marisa, is the factory tour director who brings the business history to life.

“With the pandemic, the business has taken a hit. Not a lot of people are coming in anymore. Where we source our items, it’s been slow to get things here due to customs,” said Desiree Hampton, the daytime tour guide. “The one good thing, though, is that we’re steady, and our doors are open. With fewer people, it has helped us get to know our customers on a more personal level.”

During the pandemic, more people chose to stay home and order in rather than go out. This has been challenging for local businesses because they may not have had resources to ship items out or the funds to bring them in.

Working through the challenges, however, has not been without rewards for the Cerretas and their employees.

“My favorite part of this job is getting to experience generations of customers coming in. Someone may come in that was here when my grandpa was working here. Now, they’re bringing in their grandkids to give them that experience they had,” Tony Cerreta said. “This is my favorite place to be. I love my job and everything about it. When I come in, and the smell of chocolate hits me in the face, it makes me feel right at home. That’s the feeling I want to carry over to the people that walk through those doors for the first time or the 90th time.”

Despite the continued pandemic, the chocolate is still flowing at Cerreta Candy Company and will likely continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

Located at 5345 W. Glendale Ave., Cerreta Candy Company is open Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. The store also offers tours for a separate fee. For more information about the company, or to order online, visit its website.

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