The story of Mavrakos is a rich and interesting one. It is the story of a Greek immigrant who brought his treasured family recipes from his homeland and eventually rose to the top of his industry. A living testament to the American dream, Mavrakos is also a story with deep and intimate ties to St. Louis.
In 1904, John L. Mavrakos settled in St. Louis where he soon opened a candy and ice cream shop at Vandeventer Avenue and Olive Street. In 1913, he and his wife Madeline launched Mavrakos Candy Co., which produced many of his familyâ€™s secret recipes, much to the delight of St. Louisans. Over the following decades, the family business grew, additional stores opened, and his prestige in the industry soared.
In 1943, John received a letter from his son, who was serving in Italy in the military. Inspired to deliver a taste of home to America's soldiers, he got the idea for developing special recipes for candy and new design for boxes for shipping the sweets to GIs overseas. John Sr. worked with officials in Washington, D.C. for a year before finally convincing them to give him the exclusive rights to ship candy to servicemen aboard.
During the company’s peak in the 1950′s, Mavrakos had over 16 retail stores in the Saint Louis area, a popular catalog and a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility. In 1959, John Mavrakos won the Candy Industry Copper Kettle award, which is considered the “highest recognition an individual working within the U.S. confectionery industry can attain” according to Candy Industry Magazine. The Greek chocolatier was respected for his leadership and inspired the world of chocolate as we know of it today.
In many ways, Mavrakos set the standard for use of top-quality of ingredients. From imported molasses to the finest nutmeats, fresh natural ingredients were the staple of quality Mavrakos products. Mavrakos also sourced only the finest cocoa beans for its creamy milk and dark chocolate. One of its most popular items was a slab of milk or dark chocolate. Some of the most cherished chocolates today stem from the original Mavrakos recipe book, including Pecan Burrsâ„¢, Molasses Puffs, Heavenly Hash (now called Pecan Marshmallow Bars), Coconut Crescents, fondant Bon Bon Creams and Marshmallow Eggs.
Many fans of Mavrakos know that the story of this historic candy company ended in 1984, when the company was sold to Archibald Candy. Few people, however, know that the original leather-bound Mavrakos recipe book was passed to Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate Company owner Dan Abel, who grew up just down the street in Clayton from Mavrakosâ€™ last owner, Tom Wotka. Abel studied these recipes throughout the years and reinvented a few for his Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate Company product line.
In 2009, the Abel family made the decision to re-launch the legendary chocolate brand, after over 30 years of mastering the confectionery industry. The new Mavrakos offers many of the famous chocolates past customers will remember fondly and new customers are sure to love. Coconut crescents are still hand shaped to look like a ring, caramels are hand cut after cooling overnight, Pecan Burrsâ„¢ are hand poured making each one uniquely shaped, cherries are cordialized, and the bon bon fondant creams are hand poured into starch molds and enrobed in Mavrakosâ€™ signature chocolate. With the rebirth of the Mavrakos brand led by the Abel family, a new chapter in chocolate history is sure to be written.