The Ohio Trails Ohio Buckeye Candy Trail, created by the Miami County Visitor’s & Convention Bureau, takes you along Ohio’s most decadent sweet shops serving the one and only, buckeye candy. One of these delicious and most loved shops along the trail is Winans Chocolates + Coffees in Piqua, Ohio.
Winans has many locations throughout Ohio, but this particular location is where the magic begins. They offer tours and tastings for groups and individuals from a behind-the-window look, to a walk-through factory tour. I could almost taste the creamy goodness as I walked through the door. Immediately, I was greeted with a friendly face and a beautifully brewed latte. The craft of Winans chocolate making is passed down from generation to generation. Established in the 1900s, four family-owned business generations later, Winans continues to create hand-crafted deliciousness.
Fourth generation owners, Joe and Laurie Winans Reiser, took over the family business in 1993. Then, it was called Winans Carriage House Candies. One year later, it upgraded to Winans Chocolates + Coffees when Joe added his love of coffee to the mix. Joe, married into the family, apprenticed making candy with his father in law, Max Winans, during busy holiday seasons. Immediately Max saw the chocolatier in Joe. Joe says everything is done the same, just as his father-in-law did.
“Everything that we do today, is what he [Max] created,” says Joe. “Every recipe, every measurement, every chocolate. Would not change that. He was of that
German baker, Dutch baker mindset, and that’s the way he created all of the chocolate. And it serves us well today.”
This is when the behind-the-scenes tour took place. Walking along the white-marked trail, my little girl and I watched as all the candies came to life. The family business extends beyond ownership – there were second and third generations rolling peanut butter balls and churning chocolate. From mother-in-laws to daughter-in-laws, the whole Winans family is dedicated to making each chocolate unique. According to Joe, “It’s what makes it work.”
“This is the same way if my grandmother were to make buckeyes, she would make them just like that,” Joe continues as he points to handmade buckeyes freshly rolled that morning. “This is the birth of the buckeye.”
Every night, a batch of peanut butter delights is made, their secret recipe. When the sun comes up, each person hand rolls at least two to four trays. Now being a hot spot along the Ohio Buckeye Trail, there’s even more to do.
“Most buckeye in the market today are made with machinery, and they don’t taste as good,” says Joe. “This is why they [Winans buckeyes] are so good – if we were to do this with machinery, we’d have to change the recipe, we’d have to change the chocolate volume.”
The melt-in-your-mouth taste of Winans chocolate had me at “hello,” and had my toddler at “chocolate” as she devoured chocolate-covered graham crackers piece by piece with chocolatey evidence covering her cute face. Priceless.
A trip to Winans in Piqua is well worth the drive. If you want to skip a tour and just try their chocolates, stop by the Dayton, Oh, location or Maineville, Oh, where you can have a taste for yourself. While you’re at it, check out other tasty shops along the Ohio Buckeye Trail including Haute Chocolate, Golden Turtle Chocolate Factory and Holly B’s Sweets. There are 31 to choose from, so choose wisely. Or why not choose them all? They each make their own unique buckeye candy. Ohio Trails has more where that came from including nature trails, holiday light trails, brewery trails and more. For more about the Ohio Buckeye Candy Trail, visit homegrowngreat.com/tour/ohio-buckeye-candy-trail. To learn more about Winans, visit winanschocolatesandcoffees.com.