Shirk's Homemade Candies' founder, Elwood "Bert" Shirk, started the business in the heart of the Depression. In 1932 he purchased The Caramel Crisp Shop in downtown Marion, Ohio. Bert left a so-called secure job at the Susquehanna Silk Mill to pursue his dream to be an independent businessman. In those days all businesses and entertainment were located in the downtown area. One of the trade secrets was to cook the caramel syrup about the time the movie theaters let out, the aroma would flow into the streets, tempting customers in to buy. Bert popped his own popcorn and cooked the syrup in a copper kettle. This same kettle is still used today after three generations of confectioners.
Bert Shirk learned to make chocolates in the 1940's from a candy maker, Fred Chessy, of Richwood, Ohio. While also owning a sandwich shop in downtown Marion where the first homemade candies were made and retailed. This location was a teenage hang out during World War II. The candy cases that are used today at the current location, originated at the sandwich shop.
In the 1950's Wyandot Popcorn contacted Bert concurring the purchase of his caramel corn recipe and help them enter the snack business. Bert worked for Wyandot for four years and then pursued confection production as a means of his livelihood. Today Wyandot Popcorn is worldwide supplier of snack products.
In 1965 Bert retired and sold the business to his son Dick. Along with his wife Joan, they grew the business through out the 30 plus years. While supplying the central Ohio area with quality hand dipped chocolates for over a quarter of a century. Dick passed away in October of 2005, and will be sadly missed by family and customers alike. Joan is active in the business today.
Shirk's Homemade Candies now in the third generation of candy makers, following the sale of the business in 1999, to Rick Shirk. He has been active in the business since 1994 and looks forward to growing the business into the 21st century.