Margie Schmidt knows what your sweetheart wants for Valentine’s Day.
And it’s not some stale boxed candy from the convenience store.
“Hand-dipped cherries with a cordial rum handmade center — double-dipped,” said Schmidt, as she worked her magic in the back of the Woodhaven, Queens, confectionery her grandfather opened more than 90 years ago.
Not a fan of cherries? Schmidt’s has everything else to satisfy a sweet tooth.
Rows of fresh dark and milk chocolates filled with nuts, jellies and creams line the shelves of wood and glass display cases in the Jamaica Avenue store. They are topped by jars and baskets brimming with colorful candy — ranging from jelly beans to Swedish fish and fruit slices.
But the real star at Schmidt’s Candy is the chocolate. Everything is handcrafted and dipped. The melted sweetness is poured into new and vintage molds to create Kewpie dolls, hearts and other scrumptious novelties.
And then there is the history. Longtime customer Florence Rahner still has a decades-old empty candy box from Schmidt’s with an inscription her father wrote to her mother.
“Everything at Margie’s is so fresh, and I love being in an old- time neighborhood store,” said Rahner, who lives in nearby South Richmond Hill. “Right now my favorite is the sugar cinnamon cream covered in chocolate. Her jellies are the only jellies I will eat.”
The store, located under the J train, is specially decorated for Valentine’s Day, and Schmidt hopes for some busy days.
But even with its loyal fans and customers, Schmidt’s still competes with cheaper packaged chocolate sold at chain stores.
“We offer quality,” said Schmidt. “It tastes good. It’s fresh. There are no preservatives. The ones in the supermarket could have been delivered easily in August or the day before Christmas.”
Schmidt remembers her customer’s favorites and helps guide newcomers with friendly conversation and plentiful free samples.
“It’s remarkable how this shop has survived from the early days of one century and into another, never losing its reputation for quality,” said Edward Wendell, president of the Woodhaven Cultural and Historical Society. “You can take two people from Woodhaven, an 8-year-old and an 80-year-old, and it’s quite likely that both of them got their first chocolate bunny from Schmidt’s.”