You’ve seen them all over the world, and they’re made right here in the Heartland: Baker’s Chocolate Meltaways are a classic Nebraska staple.
With spring nearly in full swing, Todd Baker, CEO of Baker’s Candies, is preparing for the second-quarter holiday season and the organization’s expansion into a new facility in Greenwood, Nebraska. “We make sure that Americans can’t celebrate without candy for the holidays,” Baker says.
This three-decade-old family business stands to become the largest chocolate manufacturer of authentic meltaways in the state of Nebraska. Kevin Baker, Todd’s father, began Baker’s in 1986 after working in General Dynamics during the Vietnam era. With a propensity for mechanical efficiency, “he was the ‘get ‘er done’ guy,” says Baker. After the war, Kevin wound up eventually going into the candy business for himself, and the rest is history.
Having mastered the science of production, Baker’s meltaways differ from any other chocolate in history because he began by creating a 100 percent fully automated manufacturing process before introducing a recipe. With the ability to create chocolate so efficiently, Baker’s Meltaways have always been made with the finest ingredients, and have continued to grow ever since its doors opened.
Currently, Baker’s is in the process of building a “giant candy factory retail outlet down here in Greenwood, unlike anything the state of Nebraska’s ever seen before,” Baker says.
“We hope to have between five and 10,000 square foot of candy factory, retail outlet store so you can come buy chocolates and candies here onsite.”
Along with its proximity to I-80 and Highway 6, the building will be ideal for wholesalers and retailers as well as local visitors.
Pleasantly surprised, Baker says, “we never thought people would drive to Greenwood to come to see us, as much as people in Greenwood love us, we never thought that the 400 people that live here could support a candy store.” However, in 2018 alone, the factory welcomed more than 350,000 visitors.
When making the decision to stay in Nebraska, Baker said, “that was easy, actually.
We are Nebraskans through and through. That literally is our identity, it’s who we are.
And when we created our chocolate factory, we did sell with the stated goal of making Nebraska’s chocolate. That’s what we wanted to do. We didn’t want to take over the world… we simply want to make Nebraska’s chocolate and to make a chocolate that Nebraskans can be proud of.”
Now that the third generation of Baker children are learning to walk on the chocolate factory floors, the future for Baker’s Candies looks bright. As their family and factory continue to build, so will the surrounding area. As Baker puts it, the family’s chocolate-making and passing their skill on, “is just so much a part of who we are, it just comes first nature to us.”
We’re only as boring as you are.