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By Sara Martino

    "015_15 I was ready to retire from the Camden City Police Department and wanted to start a business. Robert Duffy, who was my wife Barbara's uncle, suggested that we purchase his family candy business. Barbara had been working in the business already since she graduated from High School and we decided to go for it," Michael Hall said.

     "I apprenticed with Robert Duffy for only two weeks before he became ill and passed away. By studying the candy making processes and with the help of Barbara and the candy recipes handed down from Barbara's great grandfather, Charles  Duffy, we have kept the tradition of a family run business serving the public with the finest freshest hand-made candies," Michael said.

        Charles Duffy and his wife, Elizabeth, lived in the house on Broadway in the '40's and started the business after once working at Whitman's Chocolates. The bell that now announces that a customer has arrived also signaled the Duffy's that they were needed in the store and they left their living area to answer the call.

     Barbara runs the front end, taking orders, completing sales and014_14 informing Mike about what is needed. Mike makes the candy along with the help of his assistant candy maker, Greg Bulzak

      During the special holidays, eight employees may be working in the shop including the Halls' daughter Michelle. 

    Duffy's uses the best butter, cream, sugar, vanilla and chocolates. Only American ingredients and products are used in making the candy and no preservatives are added. Special plaster of Paris molds from the 1940's are used to  make fruit and cream candies and mints. Other  molds are used for making the famous "Irish Potatoes" which are now a year round favorite. Candy is cooked in a 1904 copper kettle. Ingredients are weighed on a 1902 scale. Everything comes together with the capable ability of the hands that create the delicious candies.

      "In order to keep our high standard of quality, I would rather make less candy. If the candy is not perfect it is not going out," Mike said. Minor renovations or a face lift may occur but the character of the business will remain the same.   Even with the increased costs of products and fuel surcharges, Duffy's prices are still lower than other candy sellers. "You have to have a passion for this type of business. One must have knowledge of science, chemistry and business know-how," Mike said.

     Duffy's takes part in the community. Girl Scouts can tour the operation and earn a "Make It- Eat It" badge made by their own hands. During birthday parties the participants can make special chocolate pizzas.

      At times, Mike has made candy deliveries to shut-ins. Curb-side deliveries and phone ahead orders are part of the service and fax and e-mail orders are taken.

002_2       Previous residents of Gloucester City often return to Duffy's.  One customer orders frozen chocolate bananas. Another customer requests Granny Smith apples covered with caramel, white chocolate and cinnamon sugar several times a year for his mother. "The customers are like family. It is so rewarding when people enjoy the candies generation after generation," Mike said. Gourmet and personalized chocolates can be ordered and shipped anywhere in the states.

     "We are grateful to the city and to the UEZ. Gina Dunphy has been a great help in assisting us with UEZ façade improvement loans, a new roof and new equipment.  We wouldn't relocate but perhaps have a branch in the waterfront area, if an Irish Village is realized in the city," Mike said.

     The sale of Duffy's Easter candy is a well-known tradition.  Customers are coming in to purchase their dark and light chocolate Easter eggs, chicks, bunnies, etc. etc.

     A meeting at a Cherry Hill skating rink that brought Mike and Barbara together years ago has led to the continuation of a Gloucester City favorite. Duffy's is open Monday through Friday from 10am to 7pm, Saturdays 10am to 6pm and on Sundays 12 to 4pm for two weeks prior to special holidays. Please call 856-456-2955.

Related: Buy Local/UEZ