Small Is Sweet

Welcome to our world, where small truly is sweet.

We believe in the magic of small! Located in our tiny central Illinois town, we whip up tasty chocolates in small batches, ensuring each treat receives all the love it deserves. Small-town living is akin to having a huge family, and we extend that same warmth to our customers.

Our philosophy is that life's sweetest moments are often found in the smallest gestures. Whether it's a box of chocolates to celebrate a birthday, a token of appreciation for a kind neighbor, or simply indulging in a moment of self-care, join us in savoring life's small delights, one chocolate at a time.

REMINDER: We close over the Summer to create some sweet memories. We close the 3rd Saturday of May (May 18th, 2024),and reopen the day after Labor Day (September 3rd, 2024) for Caramel Apple season!

History

Some of the information presented here was obtained from the book "Tales From the Trees" published in 1981 by Ailene Hayes Schneider.

Tom Paloumpis came to the United States in 1910 at the age of eighteen to Milwaukee to work for a cousin. Though he worked for a meager salary at long hard hours, he realized that he wanted to stay in America. He cashed in his return ticket to Greece and sent the money to his brother Nick so that he could come to America and join him. They would never see their parents again although Tom did return with his family to Greece in 1931 for a visit. Tom and Nick worked in Chicago and Streator before coming to Minonk and opening the Princess Sweet Shop. While unconfirmed, it is believed the brothers worked at the popular candy shop, George's, in Streator, IL. Learning the confectionary trade and perfecting the recipes they would later use at their own store. (Past patrons of George's may recognize our popular caramel "Whips")

Princess Sweet Shop

Tom and Nick purchased a Minonk confectionary, then owned by the Zarick brothers, and opened The Princess Sweet Shop in Minonk on April 17th, 1915. Business expanded rapidly in the next few years and they were planning to move to larger quarters, when Tom felt it his duty to enlist in the U. S. Army in 1918. He served in France throughout World War I. Upon Tom's return, the brother's moved to a larger building. In 1921, they installed an ice plant at the rear of the building, and made ice for their own use and also to sell to the public in bulk packages. The Paloumpis's were good businessmen and very civic minded. They had the first neon sign and the first air-conditioning in downstate Illinois.

The Paloumpis brothers made candy that was famous throughout the state in addition to running an old-fashioned soda fountain and snack shop. The shop was a favorite place to meet friends over a chocolate soda or a banana split. The store was especially festive at Christmas time with candy canes hanging from the ceiling and Christmas decorations everywhere. During the holidays, they would go around to all the country school houses and pass out candy and gifts to the children.

Many old-timers remember the smell of popcorn permeating the soft summer nights from the popcorn stand outside the Princess Sweet Shop to provide snacks for the large crowds that would gather to shop in downtown Minonk. This was in the days when Minonk was the place to go to shop on Saturday nights and was the social gathering of the week for everyone.

Tom's son Hercules (Herc) took over the Princess Sweet Shop and operated it until he retired in 1976.

The Princess Sweet Shop was a mainstay of Minonk's main street for over 61 years. The original building was demolished in the late 1970's and replaced with a grocery store. The building is now occupied by Knight's Fitness.

Cunningham's Candies

Two Minonk residents, Duane and Ivanel Cunningham, continued to sell the original Paloumpis candies as Cunningham's Candies after Herc retired. They operated out of their home for 17 years and eventually sold the business to sisters, Christie (Ketchmark) Ruestman and Cindy (Ketchmark) Meyer in 1993. The sisters brought the business back to main street and continued to sell chocolates and caramel apples under the Cunningham's Candies name for 22 years.

Minonk Chocolate Company

Christie and Cindy expanded the business and eventually moved across the street to a larger facility in 2015. They also changed the name to "Minonk Chocolate Company". They hoped including the town's name would cut down on customers showing up in Minooka (x mi north) looking for caramels apples.

In 2021, Cindy's son, Zach, bought the business from his Mother and Aunt.

Timeline

1915 - 1976

Princess Sweet Shop
Ownership: Paloumpis Family

1976 - 1993

Cunningham's Candies
Ownership: Duane & Ivanelle Cunningham

1993 - 2021

Cunningham's Candies

Ownership: Christie (Ketchmark) Ruestman & Cindy (Ketchmark) Meyer

Name change to Minonk Chocolate Company in 2015 coincided with move across Chestnut Street to current address.

2021 - Today

Zach Meyer (son of Cindy Meyer and nephew of Christie Ruestman ) purchased the business in August of 2021

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