Boston’s oldest chocolatier Anna Sammartino, who will turn 100 on Friday, taste tests candy on the menu at Phillips Candy House. As she toured the company’s 60-year-old Dorchester shop, peeking around kitchen corners she once knew well, it was clear that some things never change.
“My dad always said if you make quality candy, they will come in droves. People will come for a good piece of chocolate,” Sammartino said. “He never wanted us to change it, either, and we never have.” Next
Though Sammartino officially retired with her husband, Joe Sammartino, in the 1980s, she still pitches in as an occasional taste tester and business consultant. Sammartino said that although her parents, Phillip and Concettina Strazzula, didn’t start making chocolates until Anna was 12, her father used to joke that she had arrived in a bag of sugar. Next
As the business expanded, Sammartino learned the trade, keeping the books and handling the cash when the first retail shop opened in Belmont in 1930. In 1952, Sammartino, her husband, and her three brothers opened Phillips Candy House on Morrissey Boulevard in Dorchester. Next
A constant has been the chocolate, a blend of two types from Peter’s Chocolate that hasn’t changed since Phillip Strazzula taste-tested flavors in the 1920s. Even the centers, made in the Dorchester kitchen, have stayed true to their original recipe.
“We still do what your grandfather did,” Sammartino said to her daughter. “If you don’t have the ingredients, don’t make it!”
Pictured: Chocolate turtles are seen inside the candy shop. Next
Phillips also opened and closed a shop in Brookline, but the Dorchester shop remains, along with a store that opened in 2004 at Braintree’s South Shore Plaza.
“You know something?” Sammartino asked. “As much as we worked hard, we always stopped off for fun, we always found something funny to do . . . the time went by fast.”
Pictured: Sammartino tastes a piece of chocolate as her daughter Mary Ann Nagle looks on. Back to the beginning
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