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Sweet Surrender

It’s not a golden ticket, but it gets me in nonetheless. The little blue card given to me by the gift shop attendant holds the admission to this chocoholic’s wildest dream: a tour of a candy factory. The 152,000 square-foot Anthony-Thomas Candy Factory sits in an industrial park on the west side of Columbus. Its [...]
Laura Dachenbach

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It’s not a golden ticket, but it gets me in nonetheless. The little blue card given to me by the gift shop attendant holds the admission to this chocoholic’s wildest dream: a tour of a candy factory.

The 152,000 square-foot Anthony-Thomas Candy Factory sits in an industrial park on the west side of Columbus. Its brick front recalls an earlier and more humble beginning which my guide narrates to me.

In 1907, Anthony Zanetos immigrated to Columbus from Greece and became an apprentice candy maker for about 9 years before finally deciding to go into business for himself. Zanetos started the Co-op Dairy in Franklinton, where he continued to hone his candy-making craft.

Then in 1947, Zanetos and his son Thomas opened the Crystal Fountain Restaurant on West Broad Street, a luncheonette-style eatery serving up soup, sandwiches, soda fountain drinks, and ice cream. The Crystal Fountain proved to be a tremendous vehicle for candy, which soon outpaced regular food sales.

Despite the rationing of sugar at the time, Zanetos was still able to meet his candy-making demand. Both Thomas’ status as a World War II veteran and his occupation as a confectioner made him eligible to receive 30,000 pounds of sugar a year. The father-son partnership was cemented as the two merged their first names and formed the Anthony-Thomas Candy Company in 1952.

The company went through several expansions to keep up with demand until 1995 when it moved into the building in which I’m standing, home to one of the largest candy companies in the Midwest. The next generation of candy makers, Thomas’ children, continue the family business as the current company owners and operators. Sons Joe, Timothy, and Greg can often be found on the factory floor, staying hands-on with candy production. Joe’s daughter Candi Trifelos handles the retail division, while her sister Carla Scully works at one of the stores.

Scully’s husband Steve works in the factory as a floor supervisor.

I’m led upstairs to a glassed-in catwalk overlooking a general candy production area, where I spy a very industrial-age-looking machine, all moving parts, wrapping candy bars specially made for Anthony-Thomas’ fundraising division. The company supports the American Cancer Society, schools, PTAs, and other non-profits by allowing groups to sell the candy for $1 a bar and split the profits.

I also see some familiar Snickers labels running through a machine. Anthony-Thomas holds a contract with Mars, and processes and packages some of its candies. Trucking to and from the factory, as you might imagine, is discreet.

True Anthony-Thomas confections that will be sold in one of the thirteen Central Ohio retail stores, however, are a more involved process. My guide points at a woman in a striped top holding a brush, spreading chocolate in a clear handmade mold, the type of mold that will create a chocolate Christmas tree. Carefully, she shakes the mold to even out the chocolate and get rid of air bubbles.

“I could watch her all day,” sighs the guide. “That’s the great thing about Anthony-Thomas. People still care about candy and the process.”
Employees are making peanut brittle today, which will be hand cut into squares. Tree bark candy also is also cut by hand, but on a distinctive diagonal. Packaging is also done by hand. Anthony-Thomas has employs 200 regular full-time workers as well as additional seasonal workers.

Even from the catwalk, there’s a noticeable difference between the areas of the factory devoted for candy production, and those reserved for packaging, not just the faint aroma of melted chocolate, but the cooler temperature. A wonderful property of chocolate its low melting point.

Good chocolate melts at body temperature, literally in your mouth. Great care is taken at the factory to make sure that its beautiful finished products stay that way.

Zipping across the factory ceilings are a number of pipes wrapped in a silver foil coating (another temperature control). Each of them carries liquid chocolate to different areas of the factory, which then pumps a heavenly cascade of chocolate joy from a nozzle into large vats stirred with beaters. Giant copper kettles, chosen for heat conduction, line some of the walls.

Anthony-Thomas does not process the cacao beans that make its chocolate, but rather sends specifications to processing plants, who then ship the customized liquid chocolate to the factory by truck, where it is emptied into reservoir tanks. The thought that I have been driving the Columbus freeways along with tanker trucks filled with 40,000 gallons of warm liquid chocolate is enough to make my heart stop.

“I know, isn’t that wonderful?” The guide laughs a bit at the expression on my wide-eyed face. “They pump that chocolate into the holding tanks on the side of the factory, and it smells fabulous outside when they’re doing that. It really does.”

In another area of the factory, I get to see a chocolate-coating machine being used to make English toffee. Pieces of candy ride conveyor-belt style into a curtain of chocolate, then continue down the belt to be cooled, while the runoff chocolate is caught and recycled from underneath. 30,000 pounds of chocolates are produced per shift at the factory on the nine lines.

My tour ends where it began—in the 2,500 square-foot retail and gift shop where I receive one of Anthony-Thomas’ signature buckeyes: a molded chocolate shell with a with a white chocolate top (tinted the color of peanut butter) encasing a creamy peanut butter filling. I take a bite and wave to about twenty excited children who are waiting to begin their sweet adventure.

Anthony Zanetos’ great-great-grandchildren, now high school and college-age, often use their break time to give tours and work in the retail shops, providing the Anthony-Thomas Candy Company with their fifth generation of Columbus chocolate enthusiasts. No doubt it will provide me with my own chocolate fix for years to come as well.

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Food & Drink

You’ll like Buckeye Donut’s newest treat a la lot

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Columbus’ favorite donut shop will be rolling out [literally] a brand new treat just in time for the annual Columbus Food Truck Festival.

We think you’ll like it a la lot.

Ice cream and donuts will converge in perfect harmony for Buckeye Donuts Apple Fritter A La Mode! That’s right, a cool scoop of vanilla ice cream will rest on top of the fan favorite sweet and fruity fried pastry, all drizzled in sticky caramel. You might need a napkin (or sleeve) for this one.

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This special goodie will be available Friday and Saturday from 11:00 AM- 11:00 PM only at the Columbus Food Truck Festival on the Scioto Mile.

Click here for our advise about how to optimize your experience at the foodie fest.

BEHOLD! The newest member of the Buckeye Donuts Family: Apple Fritter A La Mode! 🍩🍦Get your hands on this bad boy…

Posted by Buckeye Donuts on Thursday, August 15, 2019
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Food & Drink

Rossi or Ratssi? Rodents force closure at Short North restaurant

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Someone is getting assigned to some “Charlie Work” after The Rossi Bar and Kitchen was served a red sticker by the Columbus Public Health Department.

The Short North restaurants was issued an emergency order yesterday because of “rodent activity in the basement prep area.” Reportedly, inspectors discovered dead rats in traps and excessive rat feces in the bowels of the 895 N. High St. building.

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Rossi will remain closed until the facility is cleaned, holes in the basement are repaired, and the rats are under control, according to a post from Tom Sussi, a local licensed and insured Private Investigator.

Sussi added that sources informed him that employees are not being paid on time.

Rats!The rodents forced a popular Short North restaurant to shut its doors.The Columbus Public Health Department…

Posted by Tom Sussi on Thursday, August 15, 2019

In an Instagram post, Rossi announced it’d be closed “for the next few days due to emergency repair.”

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Food & Drink

Fried, Smothered, & Loaded: Vegetarian Junk Food

Mitch Hooper

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Whenever the words “vegetarian” or “vegan” are thrown around, people’s defense walls go up as they instantly imagine bland salads or unseasoned tofu. Since both diets have become wildly popular trends in the world of eating, they are often associated with exclusive, healthy, clean, natural, raw, whatever…eating.

As a vegetarian, I’m here to tell you that’s bullshit. Sure, we vegetarians eat our share of salads, and occasionally tofu is substituted for chicken on our health-conscious dishes, but that’s not the full picture of our plates. Whether it’s loading up on carb-heavy sides, covering things in cheese (or vegan “cheese”), or living off the appetizer menu; living a plant-based diet can be just as much fun and games as any other fare – and here are a few dishes from around Columbus to prove it.

AM Philly

Angry Baker Olde Towne East | 891 Oak St.

Angry Baker has found a way to cover things in cheese and still please the vegans. The AM Philly comes loaded with sauteed mushrooms, onions, and peppers with tofu scramble atop a fresh and soft hoagie bun. To keep it in true “cheese/steak” form, they top the entire masterpiece with vegan cheddar cheese and a little vegan mayo. The sandwich is every bit as flavorful as a regular Philly, plus it’s just as messy to eat. I recommend a few squirts of Sriracha on it, but then again, I recommend that on everything

Buffalo Mac

Woodhouse Vegan Pop-up | 1038 N High St.

Keeping it cheesy, but plant-based, comes from the vegan pop-up at Oddfellows with the Buffalo Mac. The entree is relatively simple, but that just means more chances to really focus on flavor. The Beyond Meat “chicken” strips are marinated in buffalo sauce to really pack a punch and then is topped with more buffalo sauce and dairy-free ranch dressing with a bed of dairy-free mac and “cheese” to dig into. It’s finished off with some raw red onion and scallions to fully recreate that buffalo-style experience. Keep an eye out for Woodhouse’s first brick-and-mortar location setting up shop in the Italian Village.

Fried Cauliflower 

Hadley’s Bar + Kitchen | 260 S Fourth St.

Cauliflower is the new favorite vegetable amongst dieters for being low-carb. It’s inviting to a variety of flavors, and it can be used in many creative ways. At Hadley’s, the fried cauliflower resembles the bar-style boneless wings you might be craving since ditching meat. It’s the little things you miss as a plant-eater (like dipping sauces). So finding a place that offers three different sauce options—Dr. Pepper barbeque, house hot, and General Tso’s—is quite a gratifying moment. Dunk these addicting suckers into Hadley’s house-made ranch or bleu cheese and you’ll be fighting your carnivorous friends off as they ask to try a bite.

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Parma, Italy

Melt | 4206 Worth Ave. & 840 N High St.

Usually Melt’s sheer amount of dairy usage is enough to scare off any vegan within a 10-mile radius, but that all changed once Melt added an entire menu dedicated to vegan options. There are tons of options to choose from, but the Parma, Italy might take the caloric crown when it comes to plant-based indulgence. The sandwich features vegan chicken (or fried tofu) smothered in basil marinara with roasted garlic and vegan mozzarella cheese all in between two crusty pieces of garlic toast. It might not hurt to park a little further away from Melt just to burn a few extra calories on the way to and from devouring way too much food. 

The Joe Vegan Sloppy Sandwich

Lineage Brewing | 2971 N High St.

“Have some more sloppy joes! I made ‘em extra sloppy for you!” If that scene from Billy Madison still haunts you any time you go to break out some Manwich from the cupboard, put that canned sauce down and go to Lineage. Immediately order a beer to wash away the memory of the lunch lady, and then snag the Joe Vegan sloppy sandwich off the menu. It’s a hearty combination of lentils and kidney beans in the iconic sloppy joe sauce, and it’s topped with raw onion and your choice of vegan cheese sauce or cheddar cheese. Throw in a side of potato chips and it’s like being a teenager all over again except this time you didn’t have to steal your dad’s beer.

Vegan Barbeque Jackfruit

Alchemy | 625 Parsons Ave. 

& 1439 Grandview Ave. 

Jackfruit is a delicate fruit that tastes almost nothing like fruit. It’s a great vessel for sauces and flavorings, but if it’s not cooked properly, it can turn into a mushy mess. Thankfully, Alchemy has perfected this process with their vegan take on a classic barbeque pulled pork sandwich. The jackfruit is tender, but stays in form on the roll. For added texture and taste, the sandwich is served on a crunchy ciabatta roll with carrot cabbage slaw in an herbed cashew cream.

Brussel Sprouts

Barrel On High | 1120 N High St.

Don’t turn your nose up on Brussel sprouts, these green brain-looking vegetables are great for absorbing flavor and they have that “meaty” taste. At Barrel on High, these Brussels are oven-roasted and tossed into a Thai chili sauce making them potentially your new favorite thing. While the Thai chili brussel sprouts are worth tripling up on and calling it a dinner, might I point you in the direction of the Impossible Burger as well. The Impossible Burger has grown to fame because it resembles every aspect of meat while remaining plant-based, and Barrel’s straight-up approach of making an American classic go vegan will have you double checking the menu to make sure it’s not actually beef.

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