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The Sweet Shops in Salem, Massachusetts

When we think of Salem, Massachusetts we tend to think of two things: The Salem Witch Trials and Halloween. Well, I’m here to tell you about the sweet shops in Salem, the sweeter side. Salem has three very fun sweet shops to explore. They are all unique and have their own special treats to offer. If you like all things sweet these shops are for you.

Table of Contents

Sweet Shops in Salem

  • Harbor Sweets
  • Ye Olde Candy Company
  • Kakawa Chocolate House

First Sweet Shop in Salem – Harbor Sweets

sweet shops of Salem

Harbor Sweets started out as the vision of one man’s quest to make the ‘best’ piece of candy. Benneville Strohecker is the genius behind Harbor Sweets and their famous Sweet Sloops. The company moved to its current location adjacent to harbor’s edge in Salem in 1973 and has been making sweet treats ever since.

Ben was a visionary when it came to chocolate as well as his business. Ben believed in “The Golden Rule” which has served the company well. He started offering flexible work schedules and job sharing for his employees. His vision in the kitchen never wavered and the chocolates show that creative side of Ben. The company has grown over the past 40+ years to include five different lines of chocolate.

Even now after more than 40+ years in business Harbor Sweets continues to make their chocolates the way they did when Ben first started the company. They use copper kettles and wooden paddles along with locally sourced ingredients. I guess you don’t mess with success!

The Chocolates

Harbor Sweet brand which is the original chocolate line offers you sweet sloops as well as sand dollars. The other varieties are Marblehead mints, Harbor Lights, Friendship Sweets, and a few others. Here is the full line of Harbor Sweets chocolates.

As you look through all the different lines of chocolate that Harbor Sweets offers you will notice the nautical theme throughout their lines. They are after all on the harbor in Salem, Massachusetts so it’s very befitting.

Another very popular line of theirs is the Dark Horse Chocolates. Started as a college thesis project for Phyllis LeBlanc, who now owns and runs the company, this line of chocolate has been a best seller ever since.

sweet shops of Salem

The Salt & Ayre line of chocolates is a nod to the spice trading routes that used to be part of Salem’s vibrant harbor. These chocolates have flavors such as Thai ginger, Chai, caramel, and Himalayan sea salt. These are certainly a favorite of mine.

sweet shops of Salem

The newest line of chocolates is the Gather line with wildflower honey. This line is really an ode to all things in nature and the plight of our honey bee and the other pollinators. Harbor Sweets donates 2.5% of the proceeds from this line to the Pollinator Project. You too can help our bee friends. Find out what you can do at the Pollinator Project.

gather line of chocolates
The Gather line of chocolates

Harbor Sweets also now carries Cocoa Santé an all-natural and organic hot chocolate with unique flavors. You can choose between Nor’Easter, Parisien, Aztec, Kashmir Spice, and Mocha. With all these flavors I’m sure everyone in your family will have their own favorite. In our family, Ainsley likes the Nor’Easter and Parisien, Evelyn prefers the Parisien, and Clint the Aztec. Although I like them all the Mocha is my favorite.

Chocolate Tour of Harbor Sweets

Harbor Sweets also gives tours of their facility. You just need to call ahead for a reservation. They offer their tours on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 11:00 am. If you are in the area look this store up, you won’t be disappointed.

Second Sweet Shop in Salem – Ye Olde Pepper Companie

Ye Old Pepper Companie

The Ye Olde Pepper Companie is the oldest candy company in America!

Originally the George W Pepper Companie, the name was changed when George Burkinshaw bought the company in the early part of the 20th century. George Burkinshaw was a very smart man and at the same time, he bought the recipes for the two most popular candies of the time. In other words, solidified the continuation of these two candies.

Nowadays the 4th generation of Burkinshaw runs the company and keeps the legacy of the famous ‘Salem Gibralters” and the “Black Jacks” alive.

tasty treats at the sweet shops of Salem
Black Jacks, Gibralters, and lots of other tasty treats

The Salem Gibralters

The Salem Gibralters come in either lemon or peppermint flavor. This wonderful candy is still made the way the original confectioner, Mary Spencer, made it. Mary Spencer’s story is quite unique in that she lost everything in a shipwreck on her voyage from England to the New World. She arrived in Salem, Massachusetts, and quickly accepted help from a neighbor who knew she was a candy maker. From the donated barrel of sugar, the neighbor gave Mrs. Spencer came the famous Salem Gibralters.

sweet shops of Salem
Pulling the sugary mixer to make the Gibralters

To make Gibralters you boil the sugar with water and cream of tartar then pour onto a metal table to work with. This is when the flavor is added, either lemon or peppermint. Using what looks like a spackle knife, you turn the edges over onto itself as the candy cools. When the candy has cooled enough it is taken to the ‘hook’. This is when the fun starts. The candy pulling fun. The candy is stretched until the right consistency. A flavor stripe can be added and then the candy is cut into pieces and packaged the way it’s always been from the beginning.

sweet shops of Salem
Photo courtesy of Ye Olde Pepper Companie

The Black Jacks

The other famous candy the Ye Olde Pepper Company has is the Black Jacks. This is a black stick candy made of molasses which gives the candy a distinct taste. This candy was developed by John Pepper as the male counterpart to what they thought of as the ‘female’ candy, the Gibralter. The Black Jacks was the first commercially sold candy in America.

Sweet shops of Salem
Photo courtesy of Ye Olde Pepper Companie

Other Candies

Along with their two famous candies the Ye Olde Pepper Companie sells a huge variety of sugary sweets from hard candies to chocolates. I personally Iove the chocolate-covered star pretzels. But you shouldn’t stop with just the pretzels they also offer truffles, turtles, and filled chocolates.

sweet shops of Salem

The variety of fudge the Ye Olde Pepper Companie makes it awesome. My husband and my favorites are the Walnut Penuche, it’s to die for, really you must try it. They also sell bark, brittle, caramel corn, and cranberry corn which is new along with saltwater taffy. This shop certainly provides that olde time nostalgic feel when you see all these candies and chocolates. Take advantage and stock up while you’re there.

sweet shop of Salem
Fruit slices – one of my favorites

The Ye Olde Pepper Companie is rightfully named especially with all the olde fashion candies they offer. They have root beer barrels, another favorite of mine, to Sassafras Slugs, to black licorice bites to Mary Janes. I have to tell you a little story about the Mary Jane candy. It was originally made by the Charles N. Miller Company. It was named after an aunt Mary in the family, my husbands family. Yes, my husband’s family’s claim to fame is being the original manufacturer of Mary Jane Candies. The family is so glad to have the tradition kept alive and still sold today, especially right here in Massachusetts where it was first made.

For more nostalgia check out my post of Picturesque Covered Bridges of Vermont.

Valentine offerings
Some wonderful treats. Yes, those are candy pizzas! I think that might be a birthday cake in my future.

Third Sweet Shop in Salem – Kakawa Chocolate House

The Kakawa Chocolate House is a very unique sweet shop in Salem. When we first discovered Kakawa Chocolate House my husband and I both said “Mexican Chocolate?” We were right. You might not know but the word Kakawa comes from the Olmec who were the first major civilization in Mexico. The word means cocoa or chocolate so the name is very befitting the company. They are after all a drinking chocolate company.

The company has two stores in New Mexico where it originated and now has branched out to Salem, Massachusetts. Don’t think of their drinking chocolate as hot chocolate, it’s not. It’s more of an enchanted elixir to sip and savor rather than a hot chocolate that you glug.

Their “mission is to re-introduce you to chocolate” through history and anthropology. They use historic recipes dating back all the way to 1000BC for some of their elixirs. They offer flavors like Rose Almond, Zapoteca, Jeffersonian, Havana Rum and Pomegranate just to name a few.

Of course, they offer more than just their fabulous elixirs but when you visit you should try a flight of drinking chocolates. This gives you a variety of four or eight different drinking chocolates to try at once. We did a flight of 4 and were happy with our selection. We chose Chili, Coconut Hibiscus, Tzul, and Kakawa’s American. You can also add whipped cream for a small extra fee. I think the whipped cream adds a nice creaminess to the drinking chocolate.

Sweet shops of Salem
Our flight of drinking chocolates- YUM!

The Chocolates

Kakawa’s chocolates, caramels, and truffles are made in small batches with local seasonal ingredients. Their selection changes with the seasons. This allows you to go in often to savor all the new confections they are making.

The shop in Salem Mass also offers ice cream. Organic house-made locally sourced delicious ice cream as well as milkshakes and sorbet.

Therefore, if you are looking for a unique chocolate experience Kakawa Chocolate House is the place to go.

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In Conclusion

As you can see all three of these sweet shops in Salem are unique in their own way. They all have a place of honor within the town to thrive and prosper. I hope the next time you visit Massachusetts that you visit all three of the sweet shops in Salem. Savor their delicious treats and judge for yourself which candy you like the best.

Do you have a favorite candy? Do you need to travel far to enjoy it? or does a local shop carry it? Please leave a comment below and tell me all about them.

This Post Has 61 Comments

  1. Tamara Gutierrez

    It is totally appropriate to eat chocolate for breakfast, right??? This post has me craving a whole lot of it right now.

    1. Leeanne

      Yes, chocolate to absolute breakfast food. I generally don’t need an excuse though to eat chocolate. 🙂

  2. Cindy

    We used to go to Salem every year when my children were young and have been to these shops. It is such a treat. We love the Black Jacks and the historical significance is awesome!

    1. Leeanne

      I totally agree. It is our nation’s history. I love that these shops have kept up all the traditions.

  3. Stacey

    Thanks for sharing the detailed summary of the sweet shops in Salem just in time for Valentine’s Day!

    1. Leeanne

      I hope it has inspired you to visit them.

  4. Tara

    Oh my goodness, those shops are too adorable! I’ve always wanted to visit Massachusetts, (especially the Lizzie Borden House), but now you’ve inspired me to visit their sweet shops. Thanks for this!

    1. Leeanne

      Salem is one of those cities you can go back to time and time again and always find something new. The history, the harbor, the shops, it’s all wonderful.

  5. Beth Steigerwalt

    Tasty treats from chocolatiers whose recipes have spanned the centuries sounds delicious!

    1. Leeanne

      That they are Beth. I’m sure you will love them.

  6. Carey Mileshko

    I normally am not a sweets person, however, all those wonderful pictures are making me crave chocolate! Salem has a lot of history, things to see/do, and is a place I would love to visit. Now I will also have to visit these chocolate shops!

    1. Leeanne

      That’s the great thing is that you don’t need to take your chocolate sweet. You can get it spicy! My husband loved the spice in the Mayan drinking chocolate.

  7. Leslie Carbone

    I was born in Salem. Now I have some new shops to check out next time I visit home. Thanks!

    1. Leeanne

      How fun. I’m sure you will love all these shops.

  8. Yuri

    I have a sweet tooth. I really need chocolate right now. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Leeanne

      Nothing satisfy’s like a great piece of chocolate. Yum!

  9. Susan

    Yummy! I’ll take several of those Peppermint Ponies…and a little of everything else. We love visiting chocolate shops and sweets shops. They usually smell amazing. 🙂

    1. Leeanne

      I absolutely agree. The smell alone is worth walking into these shops for. I love finding new favorites and having the old standbys. I have to admit there isn’t a candy store I go into without buying those fruit slices. I’m not really sure why that is but I have to have them.

  10. jen


    1. Leeanne

      First of all, Jen if you haven’t been to Salem, well it’s your kind of town. So much history, it’s awesome. Then add in all the fun and trendy shops, the harbor, the restaurant, and the chocolate. OMG for certain. I’d love to meet up when you come.

  11. Cathy

    I’ve pinned this for future reference. My kids love a good hot cocoa, and I’m all for trying some of the yummy chocolates you featured.

    1. Leeanne

      The hot cocoa is to die for. Ainsley had some more this afternoon and oh, so heavenly and she didn’t want to share. 🙁

  12. Candy K

    This certainly looks like our kind of place. Nice job shining a new light on a location that people may know for other reasons.

    1. Leeanne

      Thanks. I love to discuss other parts of cities. More of the hidden gems. Places that people don’t think to go to.

  13. Shirley

    Everything looks delicious! I would love to try the peppermint Gibralters.

    1. Leeanne

      They are yummy Shirley and worth the trip.

  14. Stacey

    My mouth is watering… I would lick my computer screen, but that is both gross and weird, right? LOL… Thanks for sharing

    1. Leeanne

      Yes, gross and weird but you can get your fix by ordering online and having the treats shipped to you.

  15. Sherry

    I’ve never been to Salem, but I think it’s safe to say they have the sweets covered! And they know how to properly celebrate Valentine’s Day-lots of hearts and yummy treats! Beautiful photos!!

    1. Leeanne

      They do know how to celebrate Valentine’s Day with all their amazing chocolates. So yummy.

  16. Lucy

    ugh those sweets look amazing! I love little chocolate shops like these!

    1. Leeanne

      I love little chocolate shops too. Especially when you get to talk to the owners. You can really see and feel their passion for their craft. It’s awesome.

  17. Lisa Manderino

    So cute and so delicious!

  18. Brianna Creef

    This town can take all my money as far as I’m concerned! Haha! So many delicious looking treats!

    1. Leeanne

      I totally understand and it will be difficult for you not to want at least 1 of everything each shop offers. It’s probably best to go with someone who has self-control. lol

  19. Lori Nielsen

    Ok, yum! How did I miss these chocolate delights when I was in Salem? I guess I was too busy learning about witches.

    1. Leeanne

      LOL. Yes, Lori, people seem to come just for the witches and miss the other parts of this amazing city. I guess you will have to come back.

  20. Jennifer

    They look like some delicious mouthwatering treats.

  21. kmf

    I’m all about chocolate and my two guys love sweets…how did we miss all these fabulous places when we visited Salem last May? I guess that means we need to return as we did love this area. My favorite is sea salt chocolate caramels. And I love Fazer chocolate from Finland and Maribou from Sweden.

    1. Leeanne

      Food travel is an interesting adventure for certain. I love trying the local favorites and I’d be totally into going to Finland and Sweden just for chocolate. No problem with that.

  22. Hera

    Chocolate is sinfully delicious and not surprised some good stuff would be in Salem. How fun to explore history and eat chocolate

    1. Leeanne

      Oh, yes, Hera. A great combination.

  23. Courtney

    I love quaint, small sweet shops like this one filled with yummy treats!

    1. Leeanne

      They are the best. I love that families keep the traditions alive too.

  24. kmf

    How did our sweet-tooth family miss these fabulous places during our visit in May? I guess that means we need to visit again. I’m a huge fan of sea-salt chocolate caramels.

    1. Leeanne

      Yes, the sea-salt chocolate caramels are fabulous. I’m sure you will love them.

  25. Wendy Robinson

    Sweet Shops and Bakeries around the world are my downfall. I have issues. It’s like I can’t say no. I would be all over these. My favorite sweet shop in the States is in Winthrop, Washington. It’s the only one in town and it is the only place I can find Macadamia nut bear claws. They are amazing.

    1. Leeanne

      Macadamia nut bear claws do sound amazing. I would stop at that shop in Winthrop, WA too.

  26. Jordin

    Now this is my kind of post! I LOVE CHOCOLATE!

    1. Leeanne

      Chocolate is a girl’s best friend.

  27. Amanda

    This looks like my kind of shop! My favorite candy is a praline. Apparently it’s a “southern thing” because every sweet shop farther than the Mason-Dixon line that we visited, looked at me funny when I asked if they had them. haha

    1. Leeanne

      Yes, praline’s and pecan pie is another southern sweet treat that is hard to find up with us northerners. The closest thing is the chocolate bear claws. lol.

  28. Missy

    Do you have a favorite candy? Sweetarts
    Do you need to travel far to enjoy it? Nope
    or does a local shop carry it? I am lucky that the general store carries it.

    1. Leeanne

      My older daughter’s favorites are gummy bears and skittles. She can get those anywhere too.

    1. Leeanne

      And they all have delicious sweets.

  29. Heather Jandrue

    Ohhh I need to head up to Salem and visit these places. They all look yummy!

    1. Leeanne

      You will love them, Heather. These shops are so fun and yummy.

  30. Marianne

    OMG Yum!! Do you know which shop sells Macarons? We were in Salem in 2017, and I tried some of the best Macs ever in a little shop in town. Of course, this was before my blogging days, so I didn’t make note of the store or even take any pics. Sigh…

    1. Leeanne

      I’m not sure which shop had the macarons but I haven’t seen any in these candy shops. Sorry, that is frustrating when you love a product and either the shop stops making them or you can’t find them again.

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