Guest post and photos courtesy of Jamie Rhein
Last spring I discovered the wonders of Frankfort, Kentucky and couldn’t believe I’d missed its bounties for years. My family on both sides are Kentuckians– from just across the Ohio River from Cincinnati to the Appalachians of southeastern Kentucky and the Bluegrass region in between. Still, Frankfort had eluded me. Along with being the state’s capital and resting place of Daniel Boone (or is it? See Frankfort, Ky Part I), this small city is home to Rebecca Ruth Bourbon Candies, and at the top of my favorite chocolates list.
For years, trips to Kentucky have involved a quest to buy this bourbon infused chocolate gold. Only certain shops carry it. There was one at the shopping area connected to Rupp Arena where the Kentucky Wildcats play basketball. Unfortunately, I haven’t been there in years so when I toured the Rebecca Ruth Chocolate Factory, I was in nirvana.
Started in 1919 by two former school teachers, Rebecca Gooch and Ruth Hanley, Rebecca Ruth Candies didn’t include bourbon as an ingredient until 1936. During WWII, this bourbon addition increased sales. In 1929 before the Great Depression hit, Ruth bought out Rebecca’s share and weathered the economy and other mishaps to eventually thrive on her own.
The original factory is still in use and is now owned and operated by Charles Booe, Ruth’s grandson. Guests who take the tour the factory also take in the museum which includes an eclectic collection of candy making paraphernalia and items that tell Rebecca Ruth’s history as the inventors of bourbon chocolate.
Viewing the chocolate making production line is part of the factory tour. Its impressive that this family business has stayed true to its origins. Samples are included.
Of course, at the end of the tour, visitors are left in Rebecca Ruth’s magnificent candy store. Along with Rebecca Ruth’s bourbon ball chocolate, you’ll find an assortment of other Rebecca Ruth candies. The Kentucky creme pulled candy is another famous favorite. If you can’t make it to Frankfort anytime soon, its possible to order online.
Factory and museum tours are only $5. It’s worth the money just to support a local, family-owned and operated business that’s become a lasting tribute to two women who didn’t even have the right to vote when they began their chocolate making operation.