Do you remember going down to the local candy store and buying a handmade truffle or sipping on a chocolate malt? No, probably not. The local candy store, along with all sorts of independent local specialty stores, has been in decline for decades. Now you can buy cheaper (and lower quality) candy at the dollar store, Wal-Mart, or even a gas station —competition that has buried most small candy stores. With all this in mind, Holland is incredibly lucky to still have the Holland Peanut Store.
The Holland Peanut Store has a long history. The beginnings of the Peanut Store can be traced all the way back to 1902, when the Fabiano family immigrated to the United States from Italy and opened Fabiano’s across the street from the Peanut Store’s current location on 8th St. in downtown Holland.
“Back when we first opened, it was a soda fountain. We sold produce, tobacco…we were open seven days a week until midnight,” explained Tom Fabiano, a co-owner of the Peanut Store and the grandson of Fabiano’s original owner. When milkshakes were only 5¢ apiece, it was no wonder that Fabiano’s flourished. After returning from the Korean War in the early 1950s, Tom’s father opened a second store: the Holland Peanut Store. Though at this point, the Peanut Store “basically just sold nuts and chocolate covered nuts.”
Then in 1972, after a local bank purchased their building, the Holland Peanut Store moved into its current location. Today the Peanut Store is still owned by the Fabiano family—Tom and his three sisters, Mary, Celeste and Paula—and has been open for 109 years in downtown Holland.
Now the Peanut Store sells just about any kind of candy you could imagine. Chocolates, gummies, candy bars, gum, lollipops, jellybeans, jawbreakers—they’ve got everything. Of course, as their name implies, they’ve also got a great variety of nuts, most of which are roasted right in the store’s back room. Over Christmas, their busiest time of the year, they roast “between 2000 and 2500 cashews alone.”
And then there’s the locally famous Fabiano’s Nutty Paddle Pop, which is incredibly good, especially on a hot summer day. The Nutty Paddle Pop is an ice cream bar double dipped in milk chocolate and then rolled in salty, crumbled peanuts. It first appeared at the soda fountain, when Fabiano’s still made their own ice cream. The tradition was lost some time during the 1970s but when Tom began working there in 1981, people just kept “asking [him] about this paddle pop.” After a little research, he was able to dig up the original recipe, and now the Peanut Store goes through up to 500 a week during the summer.
Nuts and paddle pops are not the only delicacies made right inside the Peanut Store. Their glass display of candies includes chocolate covered pretzels, potato chips, nut clusters, turtles, and caramels, which are all handmade in back. Everything else that makes up the display and their amazing boxes of chocolates—truffles, creams, chocolate covered fruit, and a whole host of other goodies—is “made for us by small companies like us out East. We like to support the smaller guy.”
It’s this sort of reciprocity and loyalty that has kept the Peanut Store alive for so many years. “Holland is loyal. We have a downtown that’s envied by downtowns across the nation.” That was Tom’s explanation for the Peanut Store’s longevity. He also gives credit to the Downtown Development Authority, which plans events and helps businesses bring people downtown.
The Holland Peanut Stores is the epitome of a local candy shop. If you live in Holland, it’s likely that they’ll know you by name when you stop in. The atmosphere, the location and above all, the amazing candy, make the Holland Peanut Store a place you can’t miss if you’re ever in the area. ~Mike Guisinger, Regional Director