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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Thursday, February 22, 2024

Spindler Confections, Cambridge’s sweetest shop

A home business turned candy store is a whimsical haven for anyone with a sweet tooth.

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Jeremy Spindler is pictured making candy at Spindler Confections.

On the chilly Monday morning of Dec. 4, 2023, Jeremy Spindler, owner and founder of Spindler Confections, was mixing a batch of caramel over the stove, a typical part of his daily candy-making process. With careful detail, he described the ingredients chosen to make the signature Spindler caramel.

“We have some products like the caramels we’re [making] now that are boiled in big batches on the stove. What’s in those pots are sugar, butter, corn syrup — light corn syrup, not high fructose corn syrup — there is a chemical difference — vanilla … and heavy cream,” Spindler said.

The mixture in the pot was a golden amber and smelled delectably sweet. With a swirl of his wooden spoon, he mixed the ingredients together in a large metal pot and continued explaining the process.

“Once they’re ready, they’re going to be poured into these molds. They will sit overnight and then we hand wrap every caramel individually,” Spindler said.

Spindler started making candy when he was a kid and has since turned his passion into a successful business. Before the Massachusetts Avenue shop officially opened its doors in December 2015, Spindler Confections began as a home-based operation in Somerville.

“Around 2011–2012, I was just really in the mood to make a lot of candy around the holidays, but it was just me and my other half. So like, who’s going to eat all this stuff that I want to make, right?” Spindler said. “I decided to sell [my candy] just to friends and family and co-workers. … Then, I started getting inquiries from people that I didn't know.”

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Jennifer May / The Tufts Daily

Before the Massachusetts Avenue shop officially opened its doors in December 2015, Spindler Confections began as a home-based operation in Somerville.

The business is seasonal, as Cambridge’s summer temperatures are too hot for the chocolate inventory. Spindler Confections is open mid-October through the end of June and receives most of their business during the holiday season, with December being their busiest month.

“Peak season … is always a struggle for finding room to put things,” Spindler said. “We do about 40–45% of our sales for the entire season in the two to three weeks right before Christmas.”

Gift-giving is huge for the business, as according to Spindler, about 70–75% of all purchases are gifts for other people. These purchases are almost always made in person. This is not a surprise, as the delicate presentation of the sweets is one of the many charming aspects of Spindler Confections.

When you walk into this small business, you are instantly captivated by the array of chocolates, candies and confections of every type lining the walls. Twinkling fairy lights illuminate framed vintage articles of Boston-area confectionaries. Depending on the season, you may find chocolate in the shape of maple leaves, snowmen or hearts. The shop’s maximalist decor creates a whimsical atmosphere, which some customers say makes them feel like they’re “in a little shop in Europe” or “like something out of the ‘Harry Potter’ novels.” Everything in Spindler Confections is carefully curated to appeal to your senses, and the customers love it. Kath Atkinson, a sales associate at Spindler Confections, described the immediate effect the store has on its customers.

“Comments we usually get are things like ‘there’s so much to see’ and ‘it’s so beautiful.’ It’s just a very aesthetically pleasing store,” Atkinson said.  

The associates’ eagerness to help customers complements the sweet aroma. As customers walk in, store associates offer a friendly smile and suggestions on the store’s variety of confections.

“I think the anticipation of buying and eating something delicious is so appealing,” Atkinson said.  

It’s hard to be upset in a candy store, especially one like Spindler Confections, where the store’s staff members always put their best foot forward in customer service. Chrissy LeBlanc, assistant manager at Spindler Confections, described the importance of leaving the customers feeling uplifted.

“You have to be really careful about making sure that people walk out of here feeling satisfied,” LeBlanc said. “Every time someone comes in here, when they leave I always say, ‘We hope to see you again!’ It’s all about the return customer when it comes to small business.”  

Spindler Confections has a distinct presence in the North Cambridge neighborhood and has established its own community of chocolate lovers. The staff shared their appreciation for the regulars who frequent their shop, with LeBlanc mentioning a pair of memorable customers.

“We have a lovely couple that comes in together and they buy a large box of chocolate, one of our largest boxes of chocolate, that comfortably fits about 36 to 40 pieces,” LeBlanc said. “They buy two of everything and then that is their treat every night.”    

Atkinson shared a similar sentiment, describing the heartfelt experience of getting to know customers throughout her time working at Spindler Confections.  

“As soon as they come in the door we kind of know what they’re looking for,” Atkinson said. “We have customers who come in, who we knew when they had just gotten married and now they have babies. They come in and show us the pictures of their babies. … It’s really this lovely experience of getting to know people’s traditions and family.”

The array of specialty bonbons at Spindler Confections makes it an especially attractive place to shop for sweets. According to LeBlanc, there are a few chocolates in particular that she likes to recommend.

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Jennifer May / The Tufts Daily

When you walk into this small business, you are instantly captivated by the array of chocolates, candies and confections of every type lining the walls.

“We [make] a pistachio nut butter cup … I’m pretty sure we’re the only people that are making that,” LeBlanc said. “It’s probably one of our top sellers in the store. We sell out of them a lot, they’ve got a little bit of a cult following. We also have a pistachio bonbon that’ll knock your socks off.”

Another one of their unique creations involves tea from another small business in Cambridge: Mem Tea Imports.  

“I think [the Mem Tea Imports flavors] are really unique and special and have a totally different flavor profile,” Atkinson said. “We have an Earl Grey chocolate, a chai chocolate, a jasmine rose, … an espresso and a cafe au lait.”

During the bitter winter season, one of these bonbons could definitely lift your spirits. But if sweets like “the best chocolate-covered cherries” (according to LeBlanc) don’t appeal to you, just a look around the shop is sure to be a joyful experience. Through his shop, Spindler has created a place for customers to escape to.

“I have always really really loved amusement parks and theme parks … because they take you out of the world for a little while,” Spindler said. “What I want to try to do is give a little tiny dose of that to people when they come into our little shop.”