Hello, we are Dave and Janet (Nelson) Bernard of the original Nelson's Candies Family. We are fourth generation candy makers located in Cornville Maine. We have been in business here since 1999. Our shop is open seasonally to the public during the candy giving holidays. We both grew up in a small town in New Hampshire. We lived on parallel roads but didn't know each other until we met here in Maine when we and mutual friends got together for a snowmobile trip back in 1990. We fell in love with Maine and each other and the rest is history! We are now celebrating over 20 years in business here in Cornville!
Above is a sidewalk picture of the outside of my Great Grandfather's shop in Lowell.
How I got my start in the family business.
We are part of the original Nelson family of candy makers originally established in Lowell Massachusetts who had shops in Lowell, Chelmsford and at Hampton Beach in New Hampshire. The Nelsons also have been selling at fairs throughout New England since the early 1900's. When I was just 15 years young I started working with one of my uncles at the flea markets. I remember he would pick my brother and I up at 5:00 in the morning on Sundays and we would head all the way down to Grafton Massachusetts to sell our homemade fudge. A couple of years later in 1984 just after graduating high school I started helping my Dad at the Deerfield Fair in New Hampshire working behind the booth each year along with my siblings selling our family's famous homemade peanut brittle. I have worked there every year since. In 1991, I found myself without a full time job as the company I worked for was shutting down, I sort of fell into the candy business and began the process of learning the trade with the help of my Dad. Together we worked making candy in my grandfather's candy kitchen. We made Barley sugar candy using antique molds. We made peanut brittle and candies for the fairs using my great grandfather's original recipes in his original copper kettles.
He helped me establish my own lollipop route at local convenient stores and specialty shops and we sold our products at craft fairs, flea markets and other shows. He later opened his own shop in New Hampshire in 1994 where I continued my career learning the tricks of the trade with his help, skillful mind and watchful eye until in 1999, Dave and I moved to Maine to open our own shop where Dave learned his tricks of the trade working with me. We continued making some of the product for my Dad's shop and other family members in the business for many years. We soon after took over his portion of the fair venue production so he could focus on the retail end of his business in Wilton. Most recently, at the beginning of 2019, my Dad sold his Wilton location now owned by the Feraco family.
Our family is no longer affiliated with the Wilton location nor are they associated with the Deerfield Fair, or any fairs or events in which our family has an association with.
Pictured above is my Dad and I.
Some Family History
In the beginning...
It all started with my Great Grandfather Allen Mack (A.M.) Nelson, who we fondly refer to as "Pappy". Pappy lived in a small town near Lake Champlain in Vermont. It was there that he went to work as a young man in a local bakery. While he made mostly bakery goods he specialized in confections. One of those confections was peanut brittle, which became famous later over the years at some of the New England fairs. Pappy soon decided that he would rather be in the candy making business and later moved to Lowell Massachusetts and opened a manufacturing and retail shop. Pappy married Annie Downs (my great Nannie) and started a family. They raised two sons, Allen and Donald. Donald was my grandfather. As the boys grew up their father taught them how to make candy and he took them on the road with him as he sold his fudge and candies at local fairs. In the summer months he and Nannie kept a shop on Ocean Blvd. at the beach in Hampton N.H. and there he and his sons made fudge, salt water taffy, caramel corn and peanut brittle for years. And it was also there that my father learned his trade (along with his siblings) as he spent summers at the beach cooking candy and was referred to by Pappy as his cracker jack, as he could switch from making fudge to making salt water taffy on a whim.
In the 1950's Pappy moved his retail shop from Lowell to Chelmsford. He and Nannie opened "Mrs. Nelson's Candy House". In the mid 1960's when Pappy passed away the Hampton Beach location was closed. A few years later the candy house changed hands and remains under the management of the Mapes family. And while many loyal customers continue to enjoy their sweet treats from that location over many generations, we are not affiliated with the Chelmsford Store
So to make a long story short (as my father would say), My grandfather taught his children (with Pappy's help) the candy trade, all of whom worked with Pappy. And my father, founder of Nelson's Candy in Wilton New Hampshire, taught me just about everything I know about candy making. It is a trade Dave and I are proud to be in. I am proud of my family, some of whom are still making candy and selling at fairs.