I Want Candy
Madelaine Chocolate Co. offers treats for Valentine’s Day and every other day on the chocoholics’ calendar.
Kayla Jacobson Kaye knows exactly the kind of rose she prefers for special occasions like Valentine’s Day — pure chocolate.
It’s an easy gift for her husband, Jeremy, to bring home.
The preferred roses, available at Walmart, are made at the family-run factory of the Madelaine Chocolate Company in Far Rockaway, Queens, N.Y., where she works as a sales manager and he is assistant plant manager, each on a different schedule.
“The long stems of the candy roses are made of green plastic with soft, fabric leaves, a lot easier to hold than an actual rose stem covered with thorns,” says Kayla Kaye, who grew up in Southfield. “The full chocolate blossom, wrapped in red foil, is molded to suggest smooth petals.”
Kaye, 29, the daughter of Hedy and Bruce Jacobson of Southfield, graduated from Akiva Hebrew Day School and was a member of Congregation Shomrey Emunah in Southfield.
After spending a year studying in Israel, she moved on to Stern College for Women in New York City, graduating as a marketing major. Soon a party planner, she designed all aspects of events and often attended to oversee details.
Kaye began working for Madelaine when party planning, with weekend responsibilities, became too demanding for a mom, now looking after Noa, 2, and Henry, 3 months.
“I love the snap of biting into the candy and then tasting the sweet, creamy flavor as the milk chocolate slowly melts in my mouth,” she said. “The aroma of the chocolate is as wonderful, in its special way, as the aroma of a fresh, fragrant plant.”
While the roses are among her favorite Madelaine products, partly because Jeremy brought them while they were dating, she also is a special fan of a peanut butter and milk chocolate combination, hazelnut truffles and almonds covered with dark chocolate.
Madelaine, started in 1949 by brothers-in-law Henry Kaye and Jack Gold, makes specialty candies with designs for holidays, events and everyday pleasures.
The molds were inspired by forms seen in the Netherlands as the brothers-in-law were launching their business. The foils are obtained through artisans in Italy, where the wrappings join one-of-a-kind visuals with material strength as they protect each confection.
“We are very pleased that all the candy is made in America at a time when the economy counts a large number among its unemployed,” says Kayla Kaye, part of a workforce that can include 500 candy makers, wrappers and office staff, depending on the time of year.
“Our factory is 200,000 square feet. There are eight production kitchens and 14 molding lines. Each year, some 20 million pounds of chocolate can flow through our building and head out to destinations as far away as the United Kingdom and Japan.”
The chocolate is not compounded, Kaye explains. Madelaine uses real ingredients, including milk and cocoa. While all the products are strictly kosher, individual product lines cater to secular and Christian celebrations.
One of the best-known confections is a chocolate Thanksgiving turkey with a foil especially made to capture the colorful and positive spirit of the day.
Easter eggs actually helped launch the business and are sold locally at Macy’s. Among the area stores that also offer Madelaine products are Morley Candy Makers/Sanders Brands facilities and 7-Eleven, where Mother’s Day roses will be available. Some products are sugar-free.
“Our Chanukah coins are sold at Bed, Bath & Beyond; I used the coin mold to make guests gifts for our wedding in 2006 at the Dearborn Inn,” Kaye recalls. “We imprinted both the gold foil wrappings and the chocolates with our monogram and placed them in small, gold organza bags.
“Party givers who want to send guests off with candy can buy our bulk lines according to the themes of the events, such as sports, geography or cars, the last actually perfect for Metro Detroiters.
“I work with brokers all over the country, helping them with larger customers and retailers,” explains Kaye, who met her husband at a Shabbat lunch given by a mutual friend. “We do trade shows, and that fits right in with the event planning I did daily.
“Our recent goal has been more brand recognition among consumers. Wholesalers and retailers know who we are, but there are many consumers who do not know the brand because our candies also are sold under private labels.”
While Madelaine offers boxed chocolates and candy bars, Valentine’s Day choices also include hearts and lips in different containers.
“Who doesn’t love chocolate?” Kaye asks as she goes into work five days a week and always gives chocolates as hostess gifts and special occasion mementoes.
When visiting Michigan, she takes along chocolates for family and longtime friends. The visits — and the chocolates — are welcomed by Kaye’s mom.
“Jewish mothers are known for wanting their daughters to marry doctors,” says Hedy Jacobson, a longtime chocoholic. “I can tell other mothers of grown daughters that candy manufacturers are much better.”