Dolle’s Candyland celebrates 110 years in business


Anna Dolle drinks her coffee black. When you buy sugar 14 pallets at a time, and you have a 25,000-gallon tank of corn syrup behind your office that arrives in tanker trucks, you see so much sugar in a day that you don’t want any in your coffee.

“We move a lot of sugar off this corner,” Anna says with her characteristic twinkle-eyed grin.

Anna takes a lot of pride in her family’s fourth-generation business, which celebrates its 110th anniversary in 2020. Rudolph Dolle and his son Rudolph Dolle Jr. founded Dolle’s Candyland 1910 in Ocean City, Maryland after they arrived to scout a location for their carousel. They purchased a small saltwater taffy stand on the corner of Wicomico Street and the Boardwalk. Not much has changed in over a century; the flagship store still operates at that location overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. And the company now has four locations, though Anna and Andrew Dolle, the great-grandchildren of the original owners, still run the business.

On a tour of the facility on the historic boardwalk where her grandfather installed the same saltwater taffy making equipment in the 1950s that’s still in use today, Anna also shows me where her brother pulls taffy, using the same heavy stainless steel taffy hook used by their great-grandfather. This day, Andrew is also making handmade lollipops for the first time, so that they could be created from scratch locally and not imported from Europe. Nearly all products are handmade here at Dolle’s, from caramel apples and popcorn to the holiday chocolate figurines and the classic Boardwalk favorite, saltwater taffy.

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In the busy summer season, Dolle’s has 70 full-time employees across its four locations, and makes 5,000 pounds of taffy and 200 caramel apples a day. Candy-makers even make the taffy to accommodate the weather—if it’s extremely hot or cold outside, they’ll cook the taffy a bit softer or harder to match temperatures on the boardwalk. Dolle’s makes candy for 150 wholesale customers as well.

downloadTaffy is Dolle’s number-one best-seller (most popular flavor? peanut butter); other beachgoer favorites include popcorn, chocolate and fudge. “We are making the candy here where we’ve always been,” says Anna, “where we can see the beach.”

—Mary McCarthy