Chapel Hill Toffee
Mother & Son: Karen & Mark Graves
Chapel Hill, NC
by Elizabeth Friend, Contributing Writer
In hard times, the maxim “every challenge is an opportunity” can seem like a bitter pill to swallow, but Mark Graves managed to turn a setback into something sweet. When the financial meltdown cost him his job as a banker, Mark assessed his options. His mother, Karen, had been making and selling toffee on a small scale for several years, but she needed help to make the company grow. Mark saw an opportunity to return to his roots and invest in a project he really believed in. “The toffee has been a family recipe for a long, long time,” Mark recalls. “Friends and family always told Mom she should sell it. It’s terrific.”
The two have embarked on a mission to hand-craft the finest, freshest, chocolate-dipped butter pecan toffee you’ve ever tasted. Together they tweaked the family recipe and perfected the art and science of candy making. Chapel Hill Toffee balances rich buttery flavor with the toasty nuances of caramel and the crunch of fresh pecans. Each slice is dipped in dark chocolate to add silkiness and depth. Quality and attention to detail go into every batch of sweet crunchy goodness. “The two of us do everything,” Mark says. “There is no mass production. We make it all by hand to ensure the best taste and consistency.”
Mark and Karen are thrilled with how well their product has been received. “It’s great to see people’s reactions. We love to hand out candy and see their smiles.” The mother-son team shares a philosophy as simply sweet as their amazing toffee: they believe in homegrown flavor, all-natural ingredients, and a commitment to small-scale craftsmanship. Mark says they have no plans to expand their product line any time soon. “Until we find something we’re just as happy with, we’ll stick with toffee.” And you will stick with it, too – just stop by Weaver Street Market to pick up some Chapel Hill Toffee.