Holiday celebrates tasty treats, spooky sweets

Caramel+apples+can+be+topped+with+various+drizzles+and+candies.+Photo+courtesy+of+Beth+Parkansky.
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Holiday celebrates tasty treats, spooky sweets

Caramel apples can be topped with various drizzles and candies. Photo courtesy of Beth Parkansky.

Caramel apples can be topped with various drizzles and candies. Photo courtesy of Beth Parkansky.

Caramel apples can be topped with various drizzles and candies. Photo courtesy of Beth Parkansky.

Caramel apples can be topped with various drizzles and candies. Photo courtesy of Beth Parkansky.

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Many look forward to Halloween for months. Children travel door to door in pursuit of candy while college students neglect their homework for the weekend to dress in costumes and attend house parties. Though it garners high anticipation and excitement, the holiday shares the final day of October with another celebration that lovers of sweet treats and all things autumn can appreciate: National Caramel Apple Day.

The popular origin story of caramel apples, according to food website Chowhound, states that they were invented in the 1950s when a Kraft Foods employee experimented with dipping apples in melted leftover candy from Halloween. However, the concept of dipping apples in sweet gooey sugars existed decades prior to that, with “candied” apples — apples dipped in melted cinnamon candy that hardened to create a bright red, rock hard coating — dating back at least as early as 1908. And varieties of sugar-coated fruits can be traced back for centuries.

Emily Haag, a sophomore in the College of Engineering, said she typically treats herself to a caramel apple once or twice a fall season.

Earlier this month, Haag purchased a caramel apple while visiting Apple Holler, an orchard in Sturtevant, Wisconsin, with fellow members of the Marquette Band.

Haag said she avoids the potential mess that comes with eating caramel apples by cutting them up and eating them in pieces. And despite the wide array of caramel apples flavors, for her, simple is best.

“Personally, I just like the plain caramel apples,” Haag said.

For those looking to indulge in the seasonal favorite, various stores and locations across the Milwaukee area offer caramel apples:

Burke Candy: 3840 N. Fratney St., Milwaukee, WI 53233

Burke Candy is a family-owned company that has been around for four generations, since 1929. The company is celebrating its 90th anniversary this year, employee Katie Feverson said.

Burke Candy began in Illinois before moving to Milwaukee 20 years ago, Feverson said.

The company has just one location, but its products are also available online and at both locations of specialty store and restaurant Beans & Barley, as well as at various floral shops and the Sendik’s Food Market in Brookfield, Wisconsin, she said.

While some shops and restaurants boast elaborate gourmet caramel apples, Burke Candy only makes classic apples dipped in caramel without any extra toppings.

“We use our caramel recipe that we’ve been using for 90 years, and we just dip the apples in the caramel, and then that’s it, we don’t do nuts or sprinkles or anything on the apples,” Feverson said.

The caramel apples are a seasonal treat at the store, Feverson said. Burke Candy began selling them in late September and will likely stop in late November around Thanksgiving. The company recently switched to Granny Smith apples from Honeycrisp apples as they are now becoming out of season.

Burke Candy’s classic apples are one of the store’s popular items, Feverson said. Other popular year-round treats offered include toffees and sea salt caramels.

Feverson said all the candy is made on-site, at the store’s attached factory.  Customers can look through windows inside the store to see how the candy is made.

While Burke Candy makes fresh apples every day, it does sell out. Feverson said customers looking to purchase five or more caramel apples should call ahead.

Apples of Eden: 5612 Broad St., Greendale, WI 53129

Apples of Eden is a candy store that specializes in gourmet candy apples. The shop also sells hand-dipped chocolates, gifts and retro “nostalgia candy,” which is reminiscent of products that would be sold at candy shops decades ago.

Owner Beth Parkansky said the 20-year-old business just completed an expansion this past weekend, making the shop twice its original size.

While Apples of Eden sells the same assortment of apples all year long — aside from a monthly flavor — Parkansky said the caramel apples are especially popular in the fall. She said some of the shop’s most popular apples are pecan and cashew-topped apples and caramel apples with chocolate drizzle.

“The majority of our sales are from people who walk through the door, which I think is interesting,” Parkansky said. “You know now with everything being so online, we have a good customer base that keeps us pretty busy here.”

Everything sold at the shop is made in its on-site kitchen, which customers can see when they visit the shop. Popular items beyond apples are toffee, fairy food and critters, which are similar to Turtles — or chocolate and caramel-covered nut clusters —  Parkansky said.

Kilwins Milwaukee-Bayshore: 5756 N. Bayshore Drive, Glendale, WI 53217

Kilwins is a chain of candy and ice cream shops across the country. Kilwins Milwaukee-Bayshore is locally-owned and opened five years ago, owner B.J. Gruling said.

The shop sells caramel apples year-round, with caramel made in-store. The process is “very old school,” Gruling said. Kilwins’ caramel is made in copper kettles and hand-stirred for an hour and a half before Granny Smith apples are dipped.

A variety of gourmet caramel apple flavors are available at the shop, including peanut toppings, pecan toppings, M&M toppings, dark chocolate sea salt, milk chocolate sea salt, toffee and an apple pie caramel apple, which has white chocolate, cinnamon and sugar. Some flavors vary depending on the season.

Gruling said the store’s most popular flavor is the peanut caramel apple.

“I think people look at that as kind of a classic caramel apple,” he said.

Kilwins does not just reserve caramel apples for the autumn months. Every Tuesday throughout the year is Caramel Apple Day, when apples are buy one, get one half off.

The shop also offers caramel apple punch cards. After a customer buys nine caramel apples, they get one free. Kilwins has similar punch cards for quarts of ice cream and waffle cones.

Gruling said a lot of Kilwin Milwaukee-Bayshore’s products are made on-site, including caramel corn, nut brittle, hot fudge, caramel sauce and waffle cones. All treats, even those not made in the store, are Kilwins products.

The chain is well-known for its chocolate and ice cream, and all the ice cream and many of the chocolate are kosher, Gruling said.

For students who are unable to go off campus to celebrate National Caramel Apple Day, packaged caramel apples and caramel apple dip can also be found at the campus Sendik’s Food Market and other local grocery stores.

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