Sweet tooth? Hit up Victorian CHocolate Co.
Kelly Reetz, co-proprietor of the Victorian Chocolate Company, shows a batch of mixed-nut brittle in the copper kettle he uses to make the confection.(RACHEL BECK/Lebanon Express)

Traditional colors associated with Christmas are red and green, maybe accompanied by silver and gold.

In Lebanon, however, the holidays look good in purple.

The Victorian Chocolate Company, located in the purple building just east of Ralston Park, offers a variety of delectable treats, from truffles to creams.

The best part?

"Everything is handmade," said Kelly Reetz, who, with his wife Kyla Hague, owns the business. Reetz is

the one responsible for crafting the candies.

For the holidays, Victorian Chocolate Co. offers tempting stocking stuffers like chocolate Santas, cranberry caramels and handmade marshmallows.

Mixed-nut brittle, which includes cashews and Brazil nuts, is a house specialty. Reetz said a cashew/almond brittle is popular with customers.

"And of course, good old fashioned peanut brittle," he added.

The brittle is exceptional because it is made open-fire style, in a copper kettle over a hot flame. It's then poured out onto a special heated table that allows him to pull and stretch the candy until it's very thin - and brittle.

"Most candy companies don't have that capability," Reetz said.

Victorian Chocolate Co. also offers fudge, even "adult fudge" flavors that are a little exotic.

"The gingerbread spice and the mocha spice (fudge) are really nice with a cup of coffee," Reetz said.

Divinity is another holiday favorite with customers.

"Divinity can be a pain to make at home," Reetz said. "It can be a little obstinate sometimes."

He admits the confection has given even him trouble in the past.

The only things in the shop that aren't produced on-site are some dried fruit and a selection of sugar-free chocolate.

The shop has two new flavors of truffles, black currant brandy and rum raspberry. Reetz's recipes come from a combination of books and his own experimentation. He has a collection of candy-making books, from old tomes of 1913 to modern volumes.

"I'm always looking at those," he said. "I'll read something and it'll give me inspiration to think about something else."

Reetz got started in the trade in the mid-80s. "I took some lessons from an old candy-maker and we ended up buying a chocolate shop out of Portland," he said.

The couple had a shop in the Lebanon Plaza from 1983-88, then moved to the current location. But they didn't sell their wares retail until three years ago this month. They were selling wholesale to stores in Eugene and Portland and doing corporate gift baskets for places in Oregon, Washington and Idaho.

The store's emphasis on handcrafted treats distinguishes it from other sweet shops.

"Most candy stores you go into, you're going to find your gummy bears and all that kind of stuff," he said.

But Victorian Chocolate Co. decided to focus on chocolate.

It's a good thing, too, at least for mid-Valley residents.

"As far as I know, I'm the only confectioner/chocolatier in Linn County," Reetz said.

But his wares have gone global.

"I've had chocolate go to Germany, Japan, Australia," he said.

It's easy to send the company's goodies as gifts.The store ships and everything is packaged in the store's signature purple and gold boxes.

Recently he shipped some chocolates to the Midwest for new Lebanon residents who wanted gifts from their new home.

The store also makes it easy for shoppers to find what they need, based on their wallet or their taste buds.

From a $4 sampler to a 5-pound basket of goodies, there is sure to be a dollar - and sugar - mark to please.

"I try to hit all the price points," Reetz said. "I want to put out a good product at a fair price and have people enjoy it."

Buyers can hand-pick the chocolates for their assortment, preventing the recipient from ending up with a box of half-eaten chocolates.

"It's nice the customer has the chance to get involved with what they want or what the gift is going to be," Reetz said.

Clients seem to appreciate the service and, of course, the chocolate. He's had people stop in just to tell him how well the sweets were received by loved ones far away.

"And it always makes you feel good when somebody appreciates your work,"he said.

The Victorian Chocolate Company is located east of Ralston Park at 959 Grove St.. Hours are 12:30-5:30 p.m., Wednesday-Saturday. Starting Dec. 15, the store will have extended holiday hours. Call 401-3765 for exact hours.


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