Originally published on April 16, 2014 at MLive: http://www.mlive.com/business/jackson-lansing/index.ssf/2014/04/five_things_you_didnt_know_abo_7.html
JACKSON, MI — Gilbert Chocolates, currently located in the Jackson Crossing, has been an institution in the Jackson community since 1900. It was founded by John O. Gilbert and originally was located in downtown Jackson.
Brian Krichbaum and his wife, Sally, purchased the business in November. Krichbaum said he understands the tradition the store holds in the community, and the responsibility to keep the quality high.
“It’s not really our company; it’s Jackson’s company,” Krichbaum said. “We just happen to be running it right now. The support of the community is pretty amazing.”
Krichbaum said many customers support the store, specifically because of its rich tradition, as well as for its amazing reputation for top-quality chocolate.
“My favorites are the orange crèmes and the raspberry creams,” he said. “And based upon the number that we sell, those are probably the favorites for everyone.”
While many know about Gilbert’s long history and tasty chocolate creams, there are many other little known facts that Krichbaum recently shared:
The Gilbert’s chocolate factory is located at 273 Ackerson Lake Drive, south of Jackson, in a 1,200-square foot building that used to be a cottage. Tours are available at the factory, which runs between three and five days a week, depending on the season. “It’s a fun place to work,” Krichbaum said of the chocolate factory. Many of the recipes and some of the equipment used today are more than 100 years old, he added.
The business recently introduced chocolate-covered Doritos. “We opened a store in the Meridian Mall in November and the teenagers there just kept pestering us about, ‘Why don’t you have chocolate-covered Doritos; you have chocolate-covered potato chips.’ So we started making them and they sold well.” Gilbert’s also has cayenne-covered pecan clusters among its other unusual delicacies.
Gilbert Chocolates had a huge contract with the U.S. Army in the 1940. “We supplied a quarter of a million pounds of chocolate to the Army during World War II that they passed out to the soldiers as a morale booster,” Krichbaum said. “They shipped it to the battlefield and they passed out our candy to the troops. And it was all made right here in Jackson.”
About 40 retail stores in Michigan sell Gilbert Chocolates. Many are in Jackson, but some are as far away as Bay City, Battle Creek, Ann Arbor and Mackinac Island.
There are no artificial preservatives in Gilbert Chocolates. “It doesn’t last as long, but it doesn’t have to. It turns over really fast. At Christmas time and Valentine’s Day, we have a hard time keeping it here.”