Sweets for your sweetie


Aralyn Lewin , Reporter

           Does your sweetie have a sweet tooth? This Valentine’s Day finding the perfect chocolate for that special someone could be a challenge. Lucky for you, there are several chocolatiers right here in Erie and I went on a hunt to find out which one is the best.

         Romolo chocolate began in 1906 when a teenage Romolo Stefanelli immigrated from Italy to New York City. By 1926, Romolo started his own business with his wife Elizabeth. As their reputation as candy makers grew, so did the demand for their hand-made array of chocolate. In later years, Tony Stefanelli, Romolo’s grandson, in 1994 opened Romolo Chocolates in Erie. In 2004, Tony Stefanelli was named one of only twenty-six master confectioners in the U.S.

         Since the opening in 1929, Stefanelli’s has filled Erie with fine, hand­crafted chocolates and candies. Stefanelli’s family came over from Italy bringing their heritage with them, Does this sound familiar? It should! The Stefanelli family also owns Romolos! One of Stefanelli’s trade mark treats is sponge candy, this special candy reflects Stefanelli’s Italian candy making tradition. Stefanelli candies also takes their detail to the next level. Not worrying about how time consuming their process is, these candymakers make their own fillings and candymakers hand initial each one. The candymakers then manually pack each piece ready to be enjoyed.

         Pulakos “Always Fresh” slogan started in 1889. Founder, George P. Pulakos, started selling his handmade candies from his home in Philadelphia. In 1903, he moved to Erie, where he opened his first Pulakos chocolate store. By 1971, Pulakos franchised his candy store and introduced hundreds of one-of-a-kind confections. Pulakos most famous candy is their sponge taffy. Pulakos candies is always serving their carefully crafted chocolates with fresh ingredients hence their “Always Fresh” slogan they are sure you’ll taste.

      With a selection of different chocolate shops, the question is which is the best? To find out I did a taste test with Mrs. Green, Mr. Gilbert, Mr. Moore, Mrs.Yonko, and Mrs. Stawicki (whose husband makes his own chocolates). I went into Romolos, Stefanellis, and Pulakos Candy store and bought chocolate from each for the teachers to test.

I first started off the taste test with placing three pieces of candy in front of each teacher. I wanted to know which candy the teacher truly favored with no influences, so I did not tell the teachers which candy was from which store. Candy “A” was from Romolo’s, candy “B” was a from Stefanelli’s, and candy “C” was a lego-looking candy bar from Pulakos’.

Without knowing which candy was from which store, after trying, Stawicki, Gilbert, and Moore all said they would go for candy A again. Green and Yonko disagreed and said they’d go for the “the lego one,” which was candy C again. After telling the teachers which store each candy came from, the results were surprising.  Gilbert commented, “I knew that was Romolos. I live half a mile from the store and get the sponge candy all the time for my father-in-law.”

          With Romolo earning a total of three likes, Pulakos with two, and Stefanelli with zero, I can concur that Romolo or Pulakos would be the place to cure your chocolate cravings, but you be the judge.  Make a date to enjoy each one of these fine chocolatiers with your sweetie!

Romolo Chocolates:  Retail store is located at 1525 West 8th Street Erie, PA and also features a gift shop and a café with coffee and homemade ice cream.

Pulakos Chocolates:  Main location is at 2530 Parade Street, Erie, but there is also a retail shop in the Millcreek Mall.

Stefanelli’s Candies:   Five local stores with the main location at 2054 West 8th Street, Erie; Other retailers on Sterrettania Road, Buffalo Road, Summit Towne Center, and Linesville.