If you know about Pekin, odds are you know about Maurie’s Candy. It’s a local, novelty candy store fixture started by Maurie Smith 77 years ago in the old Pekin Times building.
“I love listening to those stories of you know, ‘When I was little, I came in.’ So that’s a feel-good type of–you know that I’m part of something that is a history of Pekin,” said Karen Irons, the owner of Maurie’s.
She has owned the iconic candy shop since January 2018. And while sweet treats are still a staple at the store, Irons expanded the brand to offer coffee, ice cream and baked goods.
Irons said, “Our theme really has been fall in love with Maurie’s all over again.”
But it’s not quite a sweet tooth that led her to buy the business.
“The love of food safety is actually why I purchased this,” she said.
For 15 years, Irons worked as a health inspector for different local agencies. But she bought Maurie’s when she decided to pursue a part-time career. Now, Irons has fused her former role with her present passion and teaches food safety certification courses at Maurie’s.
“Candy in itself is not going to sustain the business. So by adding on the coffee house, the ice cream parlor, that added value to the business. By me coming and adding food safety classes, that again adds value to the business,” Irons said.
While the store has seen its fair share of changes, employees say they’re still sticking to their roots. Cheryl Frampton is one of the original candy makers trained by Maurie himself 20 years ago.
“We’re still using the same ingredients and things that we did before. We’re using the same chocolate. We’re still using the same caramel corn recipe, cheese corn recipe, so I think [Maurie] would be happy,” Frampton said.
Maurie’s legacy is one that Irons and Frampton say they’re proud to be a part of, and excited to share with others.
Irons said, “You know you loved it as a child. Come see what we can offer you as an adult.”