A fifth-generation Candymaker uses a chairlift to churn sales of chocolate.
Ever read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory as a kid? Except for the bit about growing up destitute and flying around in a magic elevator, that story might be a fictionalized account of Mike Mootz’s boyhood. As a boy in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, Mootz pretty much had the run of Michael Mootz Candies, his father’s 2,000-square-foot chocolate factory (the modern-day offshoot of a business his great-great grandmother Catharine “Gammy” Mootz founded in 1919, inspired by Milton Hershey’s success with foil-wrapped kisses just up the road).
“I’ve been involved with chocolate forever,” says Mootz, who as a teen chose cherry cordials as the theme of his high school science project. “I enjoyed eating candy, making candy, giving factory tours. It was fun.”
So three years ago, while maintaining Beano’s Cabin and other resort properties at Beaver Creek by day, Mootz outfitted a kitchen commissary in Eagle-Vail with refurbished heirloom candy-making equipment imported from Pennsylvania and founded the Colorado Candy Company. Until this winter, his primary retail outlet was the Shop & Hop convenience store on Highway 6 in Eagle-Vail, where his Breakup Bars (milk chocolate with sea salt and almonds and dark chocolate with brazil nuts, walnuts, cashews, and macadamia nuts) are sold at the register alongside gum and breath mints.
Then Nina Dippy, a Beaver Creek co-worker who manages Mamie’s Mountain Grill, sold her bosses on converting the Nordic Center warming hut at the top of Beaver Creek’s Strawberry Park Express chairlift into a candy store—and asked Mootz if he’d be interested in helping to stock the place. He was, and did. When the Candy Cabin opened this season, in addition to bulk hard candies and gummies and the requisite Pepsi products, the shop stocked a line of Colorado Candy Company chocolate snowman lollipops, molded chocolate ski boots and snowflakes, and gold-wrapped chocolate bars stamped with the Beaver Creek logo.
All winter, Mootz moonlighted at his one-man Eagle-Vail chocolate factory to keep up with demand. He was looking forward to spring, when the lift would stop turning and, like most chocolate pros, post-Valentine’s and Easter, he could take a break. But already he was planning for the next season, experimenting with a recipe for homemade fudge.
“It’s fantastic: there’s no corn syrup, it’s so smooth, it’s delicious,” says Mootz, who adds, “Chocolate’s in my blood.”
AVON ON ICE
NOT SO LONG AGO, skating was allowed on a frozen Nottingham Lake. Then the lake sprung a leak, so in the wintertime the skating moved inland, to a makeshift frozen pond that was created on the park soccer field. This season, with the man-made lake repaired and once again skatable, city leaders deemed it a liability (see George Bailey’s frozen pond plunge in It’s a Wonderful Life), and with Winter Wondergrass taking over Nottingham Park in February, the man-made pond was moved even further inland, across the street to the lawn in front of the Avon Rec Center, where rink time is $8—but a warm-up in the heated pool will cost you $14. avonrec.org