Rauhauser’s reopens in time for the holidays

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Ann Richardson / Rauhauser's has been a family tradition in Ocean City since 1965. Rodney, Kelly and Blake Blomdahl are all smiles as the store was able to reopen after Hurricane Sandy in time for Christmas. Ann Richardson / Rauhauser's has been a family tradition in Ocean City since 1965. Rodney, Kelly and Blake Blomdahl are all smiles as the store was able to reopen after Hurricane Sandy in time for Christmas.

OCEAN CITY — Rodney Blomdahl worked in construction for a while before deciding to join the family business. After 22 years, he has never looked back.

The third generation owner of Rauhauser’s Own Make Candies – a family tradition since 1965 – said he has never regretted the decision.

“It’s sweet,” he said with a big smile. “I like the fact that I can make a lot of people very happy. It’s rewarding when you hear the buzz about something that you have created, when people come in to get something special and they’re excited.

“It’s one of the few places you can buy fresh candy made on the premises,” he added. The candy is made in the back of the store. “You can’t get any fresher than that.”

Seven weeks ago, after Hurricane Sandy tore across the island, dumping more than 18 inches in the downtown landmark, Blomdahl wasn’t quite so upbeat. The store at 721 Asbury Ave. was “a mess,” he said.

“It was devastating,” he said. “It was disheartening. Everywhere I looked, it was ruined, and the question becomes ‘Where do you start?’”

Meanwhile, his wife’s hair salon, Kelly’s Creations, was filled with two feet of water.

“You can’t afford not to be open, so we did what we had to do, we went to work and started cleaning,” Kelly Blomdahl said.  

Four weeks later, Rauhauser’s reopened.

“We had three weeks to get ready for Christmas, we reopened just in time,” Rodney Blomdahl said. “We have loyal, faithful customers and we didn’t want to disappoint anyone. Our customers have been very, very supportive since we reopened. I cannot tell you how much we appreciate all of them.

“We did it one step at a time. We all worked together, my staff was here for us. They are very loyal as well; we don’t go through a lot of employees here. They’re very dedicated.”

“It was really nice on Asbury Avenue. Everyone was helping each other out,” he said.

While the store has retained its desired charm and old-fashioned ambiance, the pastel pink walls are brand new.

“It took seven days just for the building to dry,” Blomdahl said. “We lost 500 pounds of candy. The finished product was saved in our cold room; it was up and out of the way. We were closed for about three weeks and we worked around the clock, with the goal of getting open in time to prepare for Christmas.”

Blomdahl lost several air conditioners in the conveyor tunnel for the chocolate candies. He had to replace motors in the cream beaters and melters.

“It was not fun,” said Blomdahl’s 18-year-old daughter, Blake, who works alongside her father and brother, Trevor.

Blake Blomdahl has worked at the store since she was 14. She said she appreciates the opportunity to be the fourth generation to work at Rauhauser’s.

“I enjoy working with my family,” she said.

Both Blake and Trevor are learning the business, their father said, with Trevor working mostly with the candy-making process.

Blomdahl’s grandfather, Curvin Rauhauser started making candy in 1940. A native of Glenside, Pa., he was working as a manager at a local Woolworths, which required frequent travel. He wanted to marry his longtime sweetheart, Mary Alice, but she wouldn’t tie the knot unless he stopped traveling. When the opportunity to work at a wartime munitions firm popped up, he took it. 

Rauhauser started making candy as a hobby. He perfected the art during the years he worked for the Stutt’s Candy Shop in Jenkintown and in Marquetland’s in Philadelphia. 

Enamored with the process, he opened a store of his own and started making candy for a living. Mary Alice learned to hand-dip the candy and left her signature on each piece.

By the 1960s, Rauhauser owned five candy stores in the Glenside-Hatboro area. He sold them in 1965 and moved to Ocean City.

“He bought Winter’s Candies,” Blomdahl said. “He bought them out and started over.”

Eventually, the Rauhausers retired and passed the business on to their daughter and son-in-law, Nancy and Don Blomdahl, who ran it for many years. They retired two years ago and son Rodney Blomdahl took over.

Today, Blomdahl still uses his grandfather’s copper kettles to make the fudge and candy the store is famous for. With his candy kitchen back up and running, he said he’s a happy man, but he lost some of his grandfather’s equipment, which he said was heartbreaking. 

“We have new stainless steel tables,” he said. “We had to get rid of the old wooden tables and these were available.”

He did save a marble slab table used to, among other things, roll Easter eggs. In 22 years, he’s rolled thousands of them, topping out at 10 pounds.
“I only did that once, it was kind of cool, but I don’t want to do it again,” he said. “Most of the eggs are between a quarter pound and five pounds.”

Christmas and Easter are the busiest times for the store, and Valentine’s Day is close behind. The summer is steady, he said, but there is nothing like a good holiday.

“After the new year, we start preparing the Irish potatoes,” he said. “We close for two weeks after Christmas and two weeks after Easter, other than that we’re here seven days a week.”

Blomdahl said the storm put a damper on the business, but he’s optimistic that things will be better than ever. Rauhauser’s, he said, remains true to its founding.

“We offer personal service, you’re not just a number here,” he said.

Blomdahl said he’s proud of his family’s tradition and hopes his children continue to follow in his footsteps.

“It’s work, it’s much harder work than most people are willing to do,” he said.

The process starts in the back and ends in the front of the store with a happy customer, he said.

“I love the holidays, you can be more creative with the candy,” he said.

The candy case in the front is festively filled with lots of red and green candies, mixed in with the staples, like nonpareils, caramels, marshmallows, fudge, nougats and coconut goodies.

“I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else,” he said.  “I love when you walk in the door of the store and it smells so sweet.”

Ann Richardson / Rodney Blomdahl said some of his equipment was ruined in the recent flooding, but the copper kettles have been around since his grandfather was making candy in the 1940s. Ann Richardson / Rodney Blomdahl said some of his equipment was ruined in the recent flooding, but the copper kettles have been around since his grandfather was making candy in the 1940s.


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