Christmas in July: Tuck's Candy & Gifts of Rockport, MA

Tuck's Candy & Gifts

Tuck's Candy & Gifts

In 1929, two very important things happened in Rockport, MA. Tuck's Candies went into business, and M.L. Gardner's 1929 cast of characters came to life. To kick off our month long "Christmas in July" campaign, we're excited to introduce you to the Tucks, their candies, and an amazing family business that's rich in both history AND deliciousness. You may recognize their name from our monthly newsletter subscriber giveaways - we've pledged to use Tuck's Candies exclusively! Christmas is just 6 months away - make that gift list now and add Tuck's Candy & Gifts to the top.

What are your names and the names of your stores?

We are the third generation, Brian and Laurie Tuck, and we operate Tuck’s Candy & Gifts. Brian is the son of Ed & Carol Tuck who in 1977 took control of the business with Bob as the Candy Manufacturing Manager. Ed is the son of George, & Bob is the son of Walter. George & Walter are the original twins who first opened the business in 1929. As the third generation took over day to day operations, Bob’s son Dan purchased the Manufacturing and its’ portion of the business from Carol, thus enabling us to focus on the original 15 Main St. location.

Describe both of your stores and what they offer.

Tuck’s Candy Factory supplies these fine candies to its factory retail store as well as to our original location. Our mail order business, handled at Tuck’s Candy & Gifts, was started by popular demand, in response to customer requests for a year-round “Taste of Rockport”. Over the years this, the original location has increased its merchandise to include many cards, gifts, jewelry, puzzles, toys and more to become the largest gift shop in Rockport.

I read that your grandfather, Walter Tuck, established Tuck's Candies in 1929 after apprenticing with some of the best candy makers the area had to offer. What inspired him to get into the candy business?

Dan’s grandfather, Walter, originally wanted to be a chef. After a summer of cracking green lobsters to make baked stuffed lobster, and getting an infection in one arm from doing so, he decided he would rather give candy making a try. He liked it. In the 1960s his son Bob joined the business full time and then Dan was hired by his father in 2000. Tuck’s candies are still made by Tucks who were trained by Tucks.

Chocolate Case

Do you use the original recipes, techniques and equipment? What does tradition mean to you?

Yes, the original recipes, techniques and equipment are still used. Tuck’s candy is still being made just as it was when Walter Tuck started, using the very best ingredients available and following the methods taught from generation to generation. The taffy puller and wrapper can be seen through the window at the factory operating as they have for many years. The candy takes longer to produce this way, but the quality is exceptional and always fresh. To me tradition is very important. It means remembering the past and the way things have always been done. It is important for us to maintain the goodness we have always had so our customers can continue to include us in their traditions. There are many families who stop in every year for their favorite candy or call to have it shipped for a special occasion. We strive to live up to those expectations.

Tell us about the free demonstrations you offer on Saturdays between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

On the Saturdays between Thanksgiving and Christmas, Tuck’s Candy Factory opens its doors to the back room. You can step right in and see candy canes, old fashioned satin sticks, ribbon candy and other Christmas treats being made. It is fascinating to see these delightful treats created.

What is your most popular candy and why?

It is very difficult to choose just one popular candy. Many of our treats are purchased on a regular basis. In the summer months Fudge and Taffy seem to sell the most. During the Christmas season we sell a lot of our boxes of Chocolates. Personally, I love the fact that you can hand pick what you want in your box of chocolates. All “milk” chocolates or only “creams” are orders we sometimes receive. Buttercrunch is also a favorite. All of our candies are homemade and are made without preservatives. That plus the freshness keeps people coming back for more.

3 generations of Tucks including the children, nieces, and nephews who offered encouragement.

Owning a candy shop and making your own candy sounds like a kid's (and adult's) dream come true. What is the reality? Describe a typical day.

Yes, it is a kid’s dream and it was our children and nieces and nephews who encouraged us to manage Tuck’s Candy & Gifts full time. The thought of losing their grandmother’s candy store was horrifying. It is mostly a fun job. Like anything there are challenges to be faced. Most days involve waiting on customers, filling the candy & gifts & keeping everything clean. During the Christmas season the focus for many of us shifts to taking orders for candy, filling, packaging and getting them out as fast we can so they arrive on time. Throughout all of this we often hear stories of what an important tradition Tuck’s is to so many people. Stopping in every summer or having the candy shipped for the holidays continues from year to year and is passed down from generation to generation.

What are 3 things most people don't about Tuck's Candies?

Not many people know that back in 1929 when the business first opened, there was something special about its location. It was located in the same building as their father, Dr. Albert E. Tuck’s Dental practice. People say he would walk his patients out through the candy store and give them a lollipop. The second thing that comes to mind is how Buttercrunch got its nickname. In our family Buttercrunch is often called kitty litter. We have our candy displayed in the window as we should but actual chocolate would just melt. Creating exact replicas of the candy was the job at task. Buttercrunch became the most difficult one to copy. After trying different products it turned out that kitty litter most looked like the almond bits used on the Buttercrunch. (The crumbs left at the bottom of the bowl taste great on ice cream.) Lastly, people often comment that they never realized how big the original store is. Our Tuck’s candy is displayed prominently in front when you walk in either door but as you continue past the register a large space full of beautiful gifts and more is waiting. We have gondolas filled with themed gift sections that expand to many shelves on both walls. In the back is a room filled with greeting cards from Hallmark and other card companies as well as more gifts, puzzles and toys. As you walk into the raised area you complete the circle with mythical figures, nautical wall hangings, lamps and a large assortment of dolls and plush.

Are you working on any new projects?

Yes, we are working on a couple of new projects. Our business does many things the same way we always have and for a lot of things that is perfect. One change we need to make is to join the Social Media world. We have had a website for several years and a Facebook page for a couple of years. We are striving to increase our web presence. We are exploring other social media sites and seeing where we could fit best. In 2010 the Shalin Liu Performance Center opened in Rockport, just a few doors down from us. They offer several concerts throughout the year that attract people from all over. Our second new project is to increase our musically-themed merchandise and to remain open until the show begins. We are staying open later on performance nights so patrons arriving early can stop in for a treat or to purchase a gift. We have increased our gift offerings which reflect the kinds of music performed and provide a wider variety from which to choose.

Connect with Tuck's Candy

We can be contacted by phone, 978-546-6352 or 800-569-2767 or by FAX, 978-546-3001. Our e-mail address is TCG@Tuckscandy.com and comes to both the store and my home. Please “Like” us on Facebook, “Tuck’s Candy & Gifts.” This is the best place to find up to date information on our hours and what you can find in our store when you visit us in Rockport, MA. Our website, www.tuckscandy.com, provides information about all of our candy and offers the opportunity to place orders on-line.

We should all remember these quotes about chocolate:

“There are times when Chocolate really can solve all your problems.”
“There is nothing better than a good friend – except a good friend with Chocolate.”

My good friend, Linda, takes that one step further: 

“With a piece of Tuck’s candy in one hand, your flip flops in the other; you can wander along the beach, listen to the waves and lose yourself in the beautiful sunset.”

By MRH, CMO