If you’re looking for something fun, festive and reasonably priced to do with your family in these final weeks before Christmas, head to the Martinsville Candy Kitchen where this time of year they are all about hand-pulled candy canes. One taste of these homemade treats and you’ll never buy a 99-cent box of candy canes again.
Owners John and Pam Badger purchased the Martinsville Candy Kitchen in 2004, saving it from near certain closure when the former owners, then in their 80s, were ready to hang up their aprons. Though the Badgers both have day jobs, this time of year they can be found in the candy kitchen every evening and weekend, busier than Santa’s elves, trying to fill orders placed by people who’ve already discovered the secret pleasure of the hand-pulled candy cane. The Candy Kitchen is open during daytime hours with John’s mom and others holding down the fort.
The best part of getting a Martinsville Candy Kitchen candy cane is watching it being made. The shop is long and narrow, with ice cream freezers lining the right side and glass cases of homemade candy (the Badgers make more than just candy canes) on the left. At the back of the shop is a wall of windows that allow visitors to watch how the candy canes are made. Got a question about the process? Just holler it out. The Badgers are happy to answer questions as they go.
About two years ago, I took a Girl Scout Troop to the Candy Kitchen to watch the process in action. The girls still talk about that as their favorite field trip. So last weekend, I took my sons to watch the fun. They are already asking to go back.
One of my favorite parts of the process is when the peppermint extract mixes with the molten sugar — the warm, sweet smell fills the entire store!
After the pulling, the two colors are combined to create those traditional candy cane stripes. The large lump of candy — a full batch can make 200 six-inch canes — is then set in front of a blue flame hood to keep it pliable and the candy is pulled into ropes that are cut to make either candy bits or candy canes. If you’ve never tasted warm, soft candy cane, you are really missing out.
Orders for candy canes start coming into the Candy Kitchen in July every year. The Badgers make canes in a variety of sizes, including 6, 9, 12 and 18 inches and numerous flavors, though after December 1, only peppermint and cinnamon canes are made. Prices start at 90 cents for a 6-inch cane.
Martinsville Candy Kitchen is located at 46 N. Main Street in downtown Martinsville, about 45 minutes south of Indianapolis. For hours of operation, call (765) 342-6390.