Sweet memories

Published 10:15 pm Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Off the Water photo/CRAIG HAUPERT Wakarusa Dime Store in Granger is located in a historic home in Centennial Plaza. The store is best known for its jumbo jelly beans, which are sold packaged in jars and plastic bags.

Mac and Deb McNally haven’t invented the time machine just yet. They’re working on it.

Off the Water photo/CRAIG HAUPERT

Until then, the McNallys may be offering the next best thing in the Wakarusa Dime Store, a throwback to the old-fashioned candy shops of yesteryear.
“We have 450 different types of candy here and a lot of it is nostalgic,” Mac said. “A lot of people come in and say ‘I haven’t seen this since I was a kid.’”

It isn’t unusual for customers to tell Mac that the Wakarusa Dime Store reminds them of the candy shops they would visit as a child.

“It is almost like they are stepping back in time,” Mac said. “They’ll walk through and look at the stuff, and they’ll giggle and laugh and want some. They end up walking out saying thank you because they had such a good time.

“It is a lot of fun to see the reactions. If you can’t have a good time selling candy, you aren’t going to have a good time with anything.”

Off the Water photo/CRAIG HAUPERT Wakarusa Dime Store owner Mac McNally is ready to serve customers at the store’s new location at Centennial Plaza in Granger, Ind. The store features more than 450 types of candy, from chocolate, to taffy to jelly beans.

The McNally’s purchased the store in the mid-1990s, but its history dates back to 1907, when it was established by the Moses Wolfberg family in Wakarusa, Ind.

In 1969, the Wolfbergs began selling the jumbo jelly beans the store is best known for today. The jumbos were originally sold in one flavor — black licorice. Today, many more flavors are available. Mac said he sells more that 75 tons of jumbo jelly beans annually to places all over the world.
The jumbo jelly beans are made by a company in the United States using the McNally’s special recipe. Mac said they tweaked the recipe slightly when they purchased the store.

In addition to jumbo jelly beans, Wakarusa Dime Store contains difficult to find candy, such as Black Cow, Black Jack gum, Zagnut, Idaho Spud and Chuckles to name a few.

“Chances are you’ll find what you’re looking for,” Mac said.

Despite the economy, candy is still flying off the shelves.

“I think candy is a cheap luxury for people,” Mac said. “I remember my mother saying even at the height of the Depression if her father went downtown to get something — and there was hardly any money at the time — he would always bring the kids back a little candy. For a couple cents back then, you could make everybody happy.”

Call the store at (574) 862-4690 or go to jumbojellybeans.com.