Thinking outside the box is the crux of what continues making Mordens’ of Winnipeg Candy Mfg. Ltd. a leader of the chocolatiers’ pack.
The current owner of Mordens’ is Fred Morden, 52, whose father and grandfather started the business at the same location on Sargent Avenue in 1959. Fred recalls working at the store from the age of eight, "helping out...and maybe even getting in the way."
"I bought out my dad out in 1985, when I was in my 30s. This was my calling, having been in it for a very long time and knowing quite a bit about the business. We’ve been going full tilt at this now for 53 years and aren’t looking back."
The company expanded in 1982, buying the building beside it, tearing it down, and rebuilding it from scratch. Morden’s then bought some very high tech, state-of-the-art European machinery, bringing it into a more substantial manufacturing playing field. Mordens’ is capable of producing more than 200 different varieties of chocolate, brittles, and caramels, as well as all kinds of candy.
What it is best known for is its signature chocolates, Russian Mints, which the chocolatier won first prize for (from among more than 300 other entrants) in 1984 at the World’s Fair in New Orleans. According to Fred, their Russian Mints (which have been enjoyed by the queen and Canadian prime ministers), are "a smooth mint melt-away. When you take a bite of it, it just melts, collapsing into your mouth – just from the heat of your tongue."
Mordens’ also offers popular, high-quality mixed nuts used in the lounges of many Canadian high end hotels. "We were one of the first manufactures to make one of the world’s largest Easter eggs," Fred says.
"But, that lasted about 20 minutes...until someone in Belgium made one a little heavier."
Mordens’ also offers hour-long birthday parties for children ages seven and up (for a minimum of 15 kids). "We bring them in to the back and put them to work," Fred says. "They get marshmallows, pretzels or whatever else they like to dip in chocolate – a tray full of treats at the end to enjoy. We clean up and the parents and kids leave with a sweet memory."
In short, Fred says, "We have endless products that can’t even begin to be explained in one article...I can make anything you ask me to, as we do a lot of private label items."
Fred acknowledges that, as with any family business, "You have to make sacrifices, working all the time."
He and his wife have two daughters (ages 17 and 19) and time will tell if they take on the business themselves. Mordens’ also employs Fred’s sister, her husband and son, as well as a niece.
"Every year is a challenge, with the chocolate and candy industry being one of the most competitive in the world," Fred says. "We just hope people like our product enough to keep coming in and buying it."
Mordens’ is located at 674 Sargent Ave. For more information, stop in or call 783-4551.
Rebeca Kuropatwa is a West End-based writer.
Neighbourhood Forum is a readers’ column. If you live in The Metro area and would like to contribute to this column, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.