In hopes of impressing a girl, V. Clyde Cummings enrolled in a high school cooking where he learned he had a passion for making chocolate. Though his plan failed to win his crush’s affection, he had set in motion a journey that would win the hearts of many as one of the world’s finest chocolate makers.
Like every young dreamer, Clyde began his business from home. While in college, the young entrepreneur mixed chocolates in his mother’s basement and sold his hand-dipped delicacies to friends. Impressed, his tasters urged him to begin crafting chocolates more regularly. In 1924, Cummings leased part of a grocery store on 9th South and 7th East, just north of Liberty Park, the now-famous Cummings Studio Candies location.
His candy business turned global with sales in France, Pakistan and Hong Kong. Famous for their creamy, soft, and chewy chocolate centers, the sweets were made with the secret ingredients and mixing processes still used today.
These trade secrets were known only to Clyde’s son, Paul Cummings, who became head candymaster when Clyde passed away in 1959. The studio’s fame continued to grow with their truffles, long considered the Rolls Royce of candies, earning them the “Best in Show” at the International Truffles Contest.
Maintaining the spirit of a family-operated business, Paul’s wife, Marion Cummings, now owns and operates the world-famous chocolate factory, employing several of her grandchildren. Marion and Paul met when they were both students at East High School and were married until his death in 2000. Under Marion’s wing, Cummings Studio Candies has been featured prominently on the Food Network.
The store is decorated with pink ribbons, heart boxes, and stuffed animals. The candy counter is loaded with chocolates of all shapes and sizes (including specially molded and decorated stiletto heels). Production is somewhat limited, as preservatives are never used and the candies are all made by hand by a staff that has been with Cummings for decades. Orders can be customized to meet specifications, and boxes are gift wrapped in holiday-themed paper.
Valentine’s Day marks the company’s busiest single day of the year. To accommodate this intense demand, two policeman will be stationed in the parking lot to direct customers.
Cummings chocolates have been around for nearly 85 years. “I try to keep our product the same,” says Marion, when reflecting on her family’s success.
Only the best ingredients in the world are used to make their candy concoctions, including the the South American Tehuantepec chocolate, a delicacy so rare that Cummings Studio is the only candymaker in the US that uses this rich, tasty flavor.
When tasting the flavorful, smooth chocolate candies it’s apparent that Marion’s business principle works and that this recipe for success will likely retain its flavor for many years to come.