For the first time in the nearly 100-year history of Rehoboth Beach’s Dolle’s Candyland, the candy isn’t being made in Rehoboth Beach. Instead, using the same equipment and recipes as before, it’s now being made at a new manufacturing facility off Route 1 outside Milton.
With much coverage, Dolle’s owner Tom Ibach consolidated his Dolle’s operation with his Ibach’s Candy by the Sea operation in 2021, which meant moving Dolle’s from its prominent Boardwalk location at 1 Rehoboth Ave. about 100 feet west to 9 Rehoboth Ave.
Since the consolidation, Ibach has been making the store’s sweet offerings in the old Dolle’s space, but with that building set to be demolished to make way for a new hotel at some point in the future, he had to be out by the end of last year.
With that in mind, Ibach has been working for years on getting a manufacturing facility built. The new facility has been up and running since about mid-March, said Ibach, during an interview July 17. It's located across the highway from Grizzly’s Landscape Supply, and he said he would have liked to build the production facility closer to Rehoboth, but that’s where he could get a reasonably priced piece of land.
Ibach said he’s entered the busiest five-week stretch of every year – mid-July to mid-August.
Being that he is in the thick of it, Ibach is making the run from Milton to Rehoboth Avenue seven days per week. Most days he starts loading his vehicle by 6:30 a.m. so he can be on the road to downtown Rehoboth before 7:30 a.m. When he gets to the store, he unloads, fills up containers as needed, turns on the lights and necessary equipment for the employees who arrive a couple hours later, double-checks everything else and then gets back on the road. He tries to be back in Milton by 9 a.m., especially the three days per week students from the Sussex Consortium are there to help.
The students are supposed to be there at 9:30 a.m., but sometimes they arrive early and it’s good to have things prepared for them to do, said Ibach. Anything they can do while they’re at the facility is a help, he said.
Later in the day, Ibach starts making candy that will be stocked in the retail store the next day.
“We’ve made 1,500 pounds of taffy in the past two days,” said Ibach.
As far as making candy goes, Ibach said he really likes the new facility. There are some kinks still being worked out, but it’s a much bigger space, and he’s able to control the humidity much better, he said.
“I can make candy in the afternoon now, which I couldn’t do before,” said Ibach.
Ibach said there are two main issues with the new facility: making the drive down Route 1 and not having the interaction with people who naturally walked into his stores.
“It can get kind of quiet out here,” he said. “I’m pretty much here all day, or I’m in town before anyone else is there.”
With all the moving parts of the business’ transition now done, Ibach said he can start to focus on the next big milestone – its 100th anniversary. Ibach’s maternal grandfather Thomas Pachides and Rudolph Dolle founded the business in 1926. Pachides purchased Dolle's interest in the business in 1959. Ibach took over the business in the early 1980s.
“I’m really looking forward to that,” he said.