Last weekend my son, Russ, and I spent a while at Soulard Market before having lunch as Lona’s Lil Eats. While we were kickin’ around the city, he mentioned two longtime sweet shops I might be interested in featuring on the blog: Merbs Candies on South Grand and Dad’s Cookies in South St. Louis.
“They’re family run businesses that’ve been around since the early 1920s,” he said.
“I’ve never been to either one,” I said.
Russ suggested that we remedy that situation immediately.
Merb’s Candies: A Chocolate Emporium
Off we headed to Merb’s Candy for a step back in time. The storefront is a bit dated, but the chocolates were all well exhibited like fine gems in a museum.
I inquired about chocolate covered orange rinds (my favorite chocolate decadence), but they don’t make those. Ahh. . . but they had large, dark chocolate malt balls. I bought a small sack to split with Russ.
The clerk strongly recommended the chocolate molasses puffs, so Russ got a few of those for his family. Chocolates on display included peanut and cashew clusters, chocolate-covered caramels and creams, almond bark, pecan hash, chewy nougat, pecan bark, and chocolate-covered pretzels.
Their bionic apples, huge Granny Smiths covered with chewy caramel, are only available in the fall. For Valentine’s Day, there’s the chocolate-dipped fresh strawberries. Both have many fans.
(See the PBS Channel 9 film clip on the history and making of Merb’s chocolate.)
Next Stop: The Home of the Original Scotch Oatmeal Cookie
Leaving Merb’s, we headed for Dad’s Cookies. The little neighborhood shop was a bakery as early as 1912, but since 1938 it’s been making cookies. The antique wood, tile floor, marble counter, and glass display cases have not changed since the bakery was built.
The star of the show at Dad’s is the Original Scotch Oatmeal cookie, a three-inch round of crispy, crunchiness studded with rolled oats. They’re also available dipped in dark or milk chocolate. The friendly clerk said that Ted Drewes buys the signature cookie to use in making their ice cream sandwiches. Today they offer Kettle Korn as well as cookies, all available in gift boxes and for shipping.
Merb’s Candies. South City location, 4000 S. Grand. Sappington location:11645 Concord Village Ave. Ballwin location, 14560 Manchester Rd. Open: Mon-Sat 9a-5p; Closed Sunday.
Dad’s Cookie Company. Corner of Louisiana Ave. and Keokuk St. in South St. Louis. Open: Mon-Sat 8a-5p.