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Hidden Cincinnati: More than just sweets, Minges Candy offers a glimpse back in time

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Posted at 6:00 AM, May 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-06 17:29:35-04

CINCINNATI — For anyone who sees the candy-striped awnings on Court Street in the heart of Downtown and goes inside, they step back in time 116 years to when Peter Minges opened his candy store.

It's a sweet, little gem tucked away in plain sight.

"We've not changed a bit," said Jordan Listermann, manager of Peter Minges & Son Wholesale Candy & Confections, founded in 1905. The space doesn't look all that different today than it did in the 1930s.

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Drone footage captures the interior of Peter Minges & Son Candy shop on Court Street in downtown Cincinnati, April 2021.

"Everything you see here is original," Listermann told WCPO. "And everybody just gets so excited just to be brought back to that period in their time."

It's a generational tradition and allows patrons like Belinda Amgiulli to awaken memories from years past.

"Who doesn't like to come in this place? Come on, you find things that you don't realize they still make. It's wonderful," she said.

It's nostalgic for me, too. I came here decades ago, and I'm still like a kid in a candy store.

Ruthie Ochs owns Minges now. She joked about some of the older candy canisters that need replacing while pointing out that some candies, through the years, couldn't be replaced.

So she started making her own.

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Bags of Peter Minges & Son candy sit on a counter at Minges Candy shop.

"The people that were making them were gonna stop making them, and we just couldn't see them going out," Ochs said.

"We try to carry items that you don't see at your typical gas station, Kroger, Target," Listermann said. "And that's what makes it exciting because you see things, especially candies, like Necco Wafers, that you know you don't see at a normal store. So that's another reason why people love us."

And they've maintained steady business throughout the decades based purely on their time-tested name and customer satisfaction, Listermann said.

"We don't advertise. We're not on television. We're not on the radio. We're simply word of mouth, and family passing down from generation to generation," she said.

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A group shops at Minges Candy in downtown Cincinnati, April 2021.

Even through the COVID-19 pandemic, Ochs and Listermann felt a sense of comfort by looking back through the store's history.

"We have heard so many stories all the way back... prohibition, Great Depression, and it reminds us that we have survived tough times, and we're so thankful that people keep coming back to us," Listermann said.

In other words, Minges' decades of steady success have relied on people like Amgiulli to spread the word: "It's a wonderful place, and everybody should know about it because if you've got any kind of sweet tooth, this is the place to be."