If you are traveling between Duluth and Two Harbors on your next North Shore Vacation, do yourself a favor and take the “long way” by turning onto Scenic Drive just outside of Duluth.  This slower-paced road takes you right along Lake Superior and through some lesser-known lake-side communities.  It is also along this road that you will come to the next shop we are featuring in our North Shore Sweet Tooth Series.

For Part 4 of our Sweet Tooth Series, we bring you to the Great! Lakes Candy Kitchen.

Toward the end of your journey on the Scenic Drive between Duluth and Two Harbors, you will come to the community of Knife River, a quaint, peaceful community that was incorporated in 1909, just four years after a man named Gust Canelake started a family candy store in Virginia, MN.

Great Lakes Candy KitchenThis candy store called the Virginia Candy Kitchen, and, later, Canelake’s Candies, is where the story of the Great! Lakes Candy Kitchen begins.  You see, the Great! Lakes Candy Kitchen is owned by third (and fourth) generation candy makers who have learned the art of candy making from their Grandfather, Gust.  Throughout the years, Pamela and Patricia continue to make their delicious candies using their Grandfather’s recipe in a white building with red trim on Scenic Drive in Knife River. At the Knife River location, Pamela’s husband, Dennis, and her son, Andy, (the fourth generation), make fresh candies daily to be enjoyed by visitors and locals alike.

It is hard to miss the little shop as your drive along, assuming you’re able to take your eye off of beautiful Lake Superior long enough to notice what’s right across the street.  The shop is bright, cheerful, and will remind you of a simpler time.  Tasting one of their Caramels or Turtles might just bring back some childhood memories. Get some Fudge and English Toffees and sit outside to enjoy your treats while watching a ship sail across Lake Superior to Duluth harbor or take a hike on the Bear Trail.  What more could you want?  Heading on to locations further north?  Buy some Air Crunch to enjoy during the drive.

All of the Great! Lakes Candy Kitchen’s mark their sweets using Grade AA butter, real whipping cream, and quality chocolate in-house.  They use old-fashioned candy-making techniques including hand-stirring in copper kettles, using marble tables for Brittles, and hand-dipping Chocolates. They also offer Caramel Apples, Nutty Ice Cream Bars, and much more.  Phew… that’s a lot of delicious sweets!

So take a moment, slow things down, and make a stop at the Great! Lakes Candy Kitchen on your next trip up to the North Shore.  You will find the quaint shop at 223 Scenic Drive in Knife River.  You can get there by taking the Scenic Drive from Duluth (what we recommend) or turn onto Central Ave off of the Highway 61 expressway if you’d rather avoid the slower drive.  Open seasonally. Be sure to check out the Great! Lakes Candy Kitchen website and connect with them on Facebook for more information and pictures of their amazing confections.

We’ll leave you this week with a great video of a group of school children visiting Great! Lakes Candy Kitchen and learning some of the history of the company and making some hand-dipped Caramel Apples.  A film by Frank Sanders.

Listen to Joe and Jaye explore the Scenic Drive on the Exploring the North Shore Podcast: