Thirty-five years ago in small Greenwood, Nebraska, Bakers Candies began making their renowned, soy-infused “Blue-Collar Gourmet” chocolates.
Todd Baker is a lifelong chocolatier. He has his father, Kevin Baker, to thank for that. In the 1980s, the elder Baker left his career in the aerospace industry to channel his knowledge of automated, mechanical production systems in a different direction. He went from manufacturing missiles to meltaways—the chocolates their company is known for today.
“In 1987, we became the first candy company in the world’s history to start with a 100-percent custom, fully automated, production process and no recipe,” said Todd, a second-generation owner/operator at Bakers Candies. In 1988, the Bakers Candies retail store in Greenwood—just off Interstate 80 between Waverly and Ashland—opened to the public, selling its signature chocolates twist-wrapped in colorful foils.
"We’re a family business in the truest sense of the word. There are currently 15 members of the Baker family working together to make Nebraska’s chocolates." — Todd Baker, Bakers Candies
Innovation in production is Bakers Candies secret ingredient. With all of the money saved by their efficient production process, the business could afford to source the best food ingredients for its recipes. “The process is our own invention, which allows us to make gourmet chocolates at a fraction of the price,” Todd said. “With the money we save, we buy better ingredients, and the result is better chocolates for less money. When you’re not a businessman, you need a simple formula that works and making better for less has always served us well!”
And one of the staple ingredients? Soy lecithin.
“We use soy in the form of soy lecithin, which is the primary emulsifier in our chocolates. Without it, even the best chocolates in the world would separate and fall apart,” Todd said. “Virtually all chocolate contains soy lecithin—it helps suspend the cocoa butter in the cocoa solids. We’ve used it for 35 years. You simply can’t make good chocolates without it.”
Every year, the smalltown business produces over 30 million chocolate meltaways from Greenwood, a town of less than 600. In 2018, Bakers Candies expanded its outlet store, making it Nebraska’s largest candy store. When the pandemic shut down in-store business, Bakers began selling its chocolate online for the first time, and 2020 actually turned into a record year for the chocolate makers.
The family-owned business has grown into a point of pride for the Cornhusker State. “Bakers Candies is the only chocolate manufacturer in the world mass producing the chocolate meltaway the way that we do,” said Todd, “so much so that the chocolate meltaways we make here have become world-renowned and synonymous with Nebraska.” The business is Nebraska through and through. From its small-town roots to the use of its fresh ingredients, Bakers Candies feels a deep connection with the state’s agricultural community. “We absolutely have shared values,” Todd said. “Chocolate is a combination of cocoa, cocoa butter, milk, sugar and soy— all of which come straight from the farm fields and dairies to the chocolate factory. Manufacturing food and farming are lifetime partners. We need each other!”
Learn more about the Bakers family business and chocolate outlet at BakersCandies.com.