Hilliard’s House of Candy
316 Main Street, North Easton
Open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
The Hilliard’s main store, located in a blue-trimmed white house along Route 138 in North Easton, opened in 1950, but the Hilliard family has been making candy since 1919. The Hilliard name is associated with high-quality homemade candy, from truffles to turtles, as well as nuts and ice cream toppings, including real chocolate jimmies and homemade hot fudge . . . and even ice cream. (There are two other stores, in Hanover and Canton.)
After Thanksgiving, the store transforms into a sort of holiday wonderland. Away go the ice cream and fall-colored candies and out come the holiday décor and treats. The house, along with the bushes surrounding it, is decked out in colorful Christmas lights, and the store is filled with chocolates and candies of every sort.
Gift ideas and stocking stuffers abound. On one shelf are reusable iced-drink cups stuffed with milk chocolate ornaments or foil-wrapped chocolates ($16). Little stuffed snowmen dangle their legs over other shelves and offer sweets. Large boxes of foil-wrapped miniature Santas are nice to have on hand for filling candy dishes ($14).
A center table displays gift sets of chocolates and nuts (roasted in-house), nicely boxed and tied with ribbons. They come in a range of sizes and prices, and someone can also help you put together the perfect holiday gift basket.
Wine glasses decorated in Christmas scenes and filled with bags of peppermint bark look like the perfect host or hostess gift ($22), as do holiday-themed 12-piece coaster sets ($6). Gift card holders in the form of little snowmen with outstretched arms ($7), mugs of chocolates, small boxes of chocolate-covered Oreos ($14 for eight), and chocolate lollipops (Santas, snowmen, and more) in all sizes and varieties would be excellent contributions to a Yankee swap.
Single silicone baking cups shaped like Christmas trees each hold a red and green sprinkled cupcake truffle (filled with cake-batter-flavored ganache) and make fun gifts for those who love to bake ($7).
Bulk bins near the registers feature tons of candies that would make fantastic gingerbread house decorations, from red and green jelly beans to red and green candy corns — renamed “reindeer corn” for the holidays. Bags of Christmas gummies in the form of wreaths, snowmen, trees, and more ($3.50 for an 8-ounce bag); red and green versions of Good & Plentys; and squares of chocolate wrapped in foil to look like presents would also make for fun gingerbread house décor or a tasty holiday snack. Tiny snowcaps with red and green sprinkles (Petite Smooth and Meltys, $4 for an 8-ounce bag), as well as their larger counterparts, could be worked into this year’s holiday cookie baking.
Chocolate menorah and Star of David lollipops ($2.25 each) make festive Hanukkah gifts. So do the traditional Hanukkah gelt, or coins — these are made of milk chocolate — which come in silver or gold in decorative mesh bags ($4).
A version of peppermint bark, layers of dark and white chocolate with specially made blue peppermint candy crushed and scattered on top, would also be a welcome treat ($10 for a small bag tied with ribbon).
And not to be missed is the candy counter along the back wall with all sorts of house-made truffles and other confections (some even sugar-free). The staff is friendly and attentive, offering baskets to shoppers whose arms are overloaded with chocolates and gifts. They circle the store, doling out samples and advice on finding that perfect holiday treat.
A wall of cards and gift bags around the store, some with images of gingerbread men or in the shape of stockings and already stuffed with tissue paper, can make gift-giving a snap. Select your chocolates, grab a bag, and you’re on your way.