Candy, candy, candy… oh, wait, fudge too? And elephants? And an enchanted forest? Who knew an outing to Mister Ed’s Elephant Museum and Candy Emporium would be an adventure the whole family could love? In fact, that’s their main goal! I recently sat down with Nicole Bucher, co-owner of Mister Ed’s along with her husband Isaac, to get a little history!
It all started 50 years ago with a wedding gift from Mister Ed’s sister-in-law. It was a simple elephant and while he found it strange, she was quick to assure Mister Ed that it was meant for good luck. While on the honeymoon in Williamsburg, Virginia, his fascination with this pachyderm began to blossom and he purchased a few more. Before he knew it, the collection had grown to mammoth proportions, purchasing another everywhere he went. Miss Pat, Mister Ed’s wife, reached a limit when their home was overrun with the collection and told him he needed to find a place to keep his treasures. At the time, Mister Ed was working as a store manager at a Giant Foods in Virginia and thought it was the right time to become his own boss. After a few businesses including some restaurants, they decided a move to Pennsylvania was in order. It was 1975 when that they opened Mister Ed’s: The Territory’s Most Unusual General Store located just down the road from its current location. 9 years later, they moved the store to where it currently stands. While elephants had always been a part of the experience, they didn’t become the focus until the move. At that time, the combination of elephants and candy made for a truly unique destination, perfect for the whole family to enjoy. Over the years, the business has adapted to become what customers want, a wholesome environment for children to dream and explore.
Three years ago, Nicole and Isaac purchased the business of which they’d been a part for a decade. Since then, business has boomed. They’ve added a variety of items to the store, most notably, in my opinion, the truffle case. I can say from personal experience that these are by far the most delectable, mouth-watering truffles I’ve ever sampled and with the most unique varieties. With lots of liqueur flavors including amaretto and champagne, fruit flavors such as cherry and orange, the most popular flavor, hazelnut and a wide variety of white, milk and dark chocolate, it would be impossible not to find a flavor you love.
When you go in the shop, the elephants and sheer volume and variety of candy are admittedly the first thing you see, but their biggest seller is what’s kept behind the counter. That’s right… the fudge. With over 100 varieties, they produce between 1,000-2,000 pounds per week. That’s not a typo… per week! And the crazy part is that it’s all made on property. Cheryl, their fudge master and creator, uses two mechanized machines, which enable her to make 72 pounds of fudge per hour. The fudge is proudly sold all over Gettysburg and is made with only the finest ingredients. All of the cream comes from Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia based dairy farms, making them one of the few Pennsylvania Preferred fudge manufacturers.
I asked Nicole what trends she’s seen over the last few years and while I expected the answer to be candy buffets, it’s not. The growing trend is a shift from candy buffets back to individually boxed favors. For this, they offer both fudge and truffles, which are, in most cases, more economical than creating a candy buffet from scratch. “The fudge and truffles have a bigger ‘wow’ factor,” remarked Nicole. “They’re more elegant.”
I asked what the best sellers are and “Fudge!” was the answer without hesitate. Specifically, peanut butter fudge. After that, Goetz caramel creams and root beer barrels come in second and third.
In regards to the most rewarding part of the job, it’s when they can make a personal connection with someone and help to bring joy to a family. “For us, it’s the warm fuzzy. We want to take people back to a time where you can have fun without technology and connect the generations.”
My favorite part of our conversation was a story she told me about how the community rallied behind them when the building burned down on July 5, 2010. They lost over 2,000 elephants, but they received tremendous support from our community and in one afternoon, they had over 100 volunteers gathered together, scrubbing fire damaged elephants with toothbrushes. The community also began donating elephants to help replace and rebuild the museum displays. Today, they have over 25,000 total.
And as if everything they offer weren’t enough, each year they host an enormous Easter egg hunt, summer music in the gazebo, a Great Pumpkin Party and Santa’s arrival. The events are always free and are always geared for children. Look for changes in the coming years to include both the addition of peanut brittle, Nicole’s specialty, as well as a new collection in Miss Pat’s Teapot Museum! I can’t wait to see what they’ll think of next!