When Charlie Bucket found the last golden ticket and visited the chocolate factory of his dreams, children everywhere related to his sense of excitement and wonder. We say “like a kid in a candy store” to convey a feeling of great joy. Brockel’s Chocolates has been serving this sense of happiness to local children, and adults, for more than 40 years.
Owners Gary and Patti Brockel began their venture into the candy business in 1978 when they purchased Wilcoxson’s Candy from Wilcoxson’s Candy and Ice Cream.
“Shortly after learning some of the candy making techniques, they moved the business to downtown Billings in the very same location they are in now and named it Brockel’s Chocolates,” recounts Savannah Green, a member of the Brockel’s Chocolates team.
At its heart, Brockel’s Chocolates is a family oriented business. Their youngest daughter, Jaci, started managing the front of the store after she graduated from college, and their oldest daughter, Jodi, joined the team when her father began his battle against bone marrow cancer. Now, with the addition of Jodi’s oldest daughter, three generations of Brockels work at Brockel’s Chocolates.
Yet, chocolate is just one handmade confection offered by the shop.
“Brockel’s Chocolates is a candy company with a diverse line of candy,” explains Savannah. “We try to locally source as many ingredients as possible. We make all of our own confections in the back of our store, from caramel apples, old fashion cream centers, homemade copper kettle fudge, caramel corn and so much more.”
Each piece of candy requires time and attention.
“The chocolate making is an interesting and tricky process. First, we have to make the centers for each of the pieces of candy. No piece is the same, and all candies are made in small batches so the centers remain fresh.”
—Savannah, Brockel's Chocolates Team Member
Their caramels are homemade, nut clusters are hand-dipped, and truffles are hand-rolled with some of the highest grade chocolate.
“There isn’t a day in Brockel’s that isn’t spent either making chocolates or dipping chocolates. We have over 150 types of chocolates in our cases every day," Savannah says. "Gary has more recipes and creations than one can count, some created back when they started the business, some new from daily inspirations.”
Visiting the shop offers a delight of the senses, particularly for younger patrons.
“Children love to come in the shop. All of the smells and sights really start to take over. Even for children who can’t quite read, they really look with their eyes and will try to find the candy that is most appealing," Savannah says.
She also believes that little ones tend to be more observant than adults.“I think children notice the little things. We hand dip and mark all of our chocolates. Children will come in and notice that there are markings on each one.”
If you ask those who work at Brockel’s to name their favorite candy, the responses may be inconclusive.
“We always tend to get asked our personal favorite, and really for us, it’s hard to choose,” Savannah admits. “We love it all since we have at least gotten to try one of each piece.” Yet, the customer favorites are easier for her to pin down. “Overall, I would say the caramel apples, vanilla caramels, super cream caramels, orange creams and rum creams are the most popular.”
Whether stopping in for an after-dinner treat or selecting chocolates for a gift box, visiting Brockel’s chocolates evokes the kid within all of us.