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'I Have To Find A Way To Keep It Going': An Easter Tradition Still Going Strong At Zitner's Candy

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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – There is no doubt that the candy aisle at your local store is stocked with Easter sweets, from jelly beans to Marshmallow Peeps. And let's not forget about chocolate covered coconut and butter cream eggs, a seasonal favorite made by Zitner Candy Corp for nearly 100 years.

They sell 6 million eggs every year at Easter, and it's a brand the Easter Bunny knows all too well for their chocolaty, buttery and coconutty egg-cellent eggs.

It's Zitner's Candy, a Philadelphia candy company that hatched in 1922 by Russian Jewish immigrants, Sam and Ann Zitner.

"It was down on North American Street, they started making it out of their garage and people liked it," said Zitner's owner Evan Prochniak.

After like, love started boiling over, growing from the garage into filling Easter baskets for generations.

"This is our new state-of-the-art candy kitchen where we're making the candy center," said Prochniak, "and we're making that at 3,000 pounds an hour."


While their machines have changed, the original recipes remain untouched.

"This wheel is actually a cooler and that will cool the sugar," said Prochniak.

(Credit: CBS3)

"I keep these old recipes right next to my desk," said Prochniak.

(Credit: CBS3)

Prochniak, a former attorney, hopped on the sale of Zitner's and its North Philadelphia factory in 2010.

"The way I got emotionally attached to this company, is the people who work here. Most of them have been here over 15 years, some 20, some 30," said Prochniak.

A lot of the employees have not only been employees for decades, but a tradition in their families that has passed down from generation to generation.

One employee named Debra learned the job of production manager from her older sister.

"I have to find a way to keep (the tradition) going," said Prochniak.

Still going is Richard Powell, who learned the line from his mom, Betty.

"She got me in '92 and I ain't looked back since," said Powell. "Now I have my own machine."

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Powell named his machine, Betty.

And Virglee, who's been keeping an eye on things for 21 years.

"They say I be too perfect," said Virglee with a laugh. "That's how I do my work. Whenever I do my work, I want it to be right."

Prochniak said most of the employees live within a 10-block radius of the factory and walk to work every day.

"It's their company," Prochniak said. "It really is."

Together, they figured it out as a family and so the tradition continues for everyone.

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