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Monday, Dec 11, 2023

Middlebury Sweets: The largest candy store in Vermont

Middlebury Sweets candy store and motel, located at 1395 US-7 in Middlebury
Middlebury Sweets candy store and motel, located at 1395 US-7 in Middlebury

When Blanca Jenne first opened a stationary store behind her home in Cornwall, Vt., she never anticipated the business would turn into Middlebury Sweets, Vermont’s largest candy store and a motel combined. Located at 1395 Route 7, Jenne now proudly sells more than 15,000 different types of candy and accommodates guests in several single queen and double queen bed candy-themed motel rooms.

As the scrapbooking industry faltered throughout the 2009 recession, Jenne knew she could not keep her stationary store in Cornwall open. When she placed four candy cases — the same four that are in the shop today — at the front of the shop, she noticed they drew in more customers than the scrapbooking materials for which the store was known.

Middlebury was losing its only candy store at the time, so with the experience of running a gift basket business several years prior and a history of gathering M&M collectibles under her belt, Jenne decided to make the switch to a full-on candy store in 2007 and open Middlebury Sweets.

Since candy is often purchased in small quantities, Jenne knew she would need a backup business to support her store. Her husband, Brad Jenne, already owned a self-storage business, so the couple began searching for another property to use as more rentable storage space. When they discovered a motel for sale in 2017, Brad suggested they buy it, maintain it as is and move the candy store there — Jenne agreed.

Though running a motel alongside the candy store has definitely added to her workload, Jenne said the two businesses complement each other surprisingly well and the purchase has been worth it. According to her, customers who don’t do their research before booking their rooms at the motel often wonder why the name is “Sweets” rather than “Suites” until they arrive, notice the candy-themed pillows, and enter the sweet-filled shop.

“Nobody is disappointed,” Jenne told The Campus. “It’s kind of funny that I ended up opening a candy store, but then again it fits my personality very well because I like to make people happy.”

Middlebury students may often miss the long orange building with a bright green sign out front on their way to the Snow Bowl — but it is a popular stop for tourists hoping to experience Vermont’s largest candy store.

“I’m in the middle of nowhere, so I have to have a niche,” Jenne said. “We wanted to be somewhat of an attraction or destination.”

The shop is stocked with Harry Potter-themed chocolate gold coins, Vermont-sourced maple lollipops and syrup, along with popular brands such as Jelly Belly, Sour Patch Kids and Nestle chocolate. To live up to the title of Vermont’s largest candy store, Jenne said she tries to pack as much variety as possible into the store.

In addition to selling candy from her 10–12 vendors, Jenne also makes her own chocolates. Jenne is self-taught, and, with the exception of a tempering machine and cooker, she does everything by hand in a small kitchen.

Jenne said her peanut butter cups are by far her most popular handmade treat.

She also offers a buffet service for weddings — customers can come in and choose 8–10 different candies, and the shop will set up a buffet with glass jars, scoops and tongs for guests to help themselves.

“It’s retro, I think, and for a lot of people it’s going back to their childhood,” said Jenne, in reference to the shop’s motto: “We cater to the kid in you.”

In recent years, TikTok trends have been a major driver of what’s most popular in the store at any given moment, according to Jenne. She tries to keep up with the online trends to find out what will soon be in demand. For example, Slime Licker’s Toxic Waste Sour Candy was out of stock for months because of its popularity on the app, Jenne added. Unusual candy-flavored sodas have also gained traction, and customers are now requesting freeze dried candy. Jenne has even started selling toys, including Legos.

“We’re trying to branch out a bit, which is always important as a small business. It’s easy to get comfortable and I try not to do that, I try to keep changing it up,” Jenne said.

Middlebury Sweets Shop is open every day of the week, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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Madeleine Kaptein

Madeleine Kaptein '25.5 (she/her) is a local editor and previously served as a copy editor. 

A Comparative Literature major and German minor, Madeleine enjoys reading, biking and hanging out with her cats. She is also an editor for Clover Magazine.