My kids are now in their 20s, but we still make the trip to Nora's Candy Shop in Rome for homemade Easter treats, like we've done since they were toddlers. It's a tradition and no matter how old they get, they still look forward to that solid milk chocolate bunny from Nora's. It's also become tradition that you can never leave Nora's Candy Shop without purchasing their world famous Turkey Joints, no matter what time of year it is.

Turkey Joints Were Actually Created in Syracuse

Nora's Candy Shop, and the world famous Candyland Turkey Joints date all the way back to 1919. It was then in Syracuse that the unique candy was created by partners Jimmy Kekis and Spero Haritatos (uncle and namesake of the current owner) at a confectionery shop in the city. The delicacy, made with a sweet silvery candy coating surrounded by a delicious chocolate nugget featuring Hazelnuts or Brazil nuts, weren't actually called Turkey Joints in the beginning. Kekis, Haritatos and another partner called them "Turkey Bones," at least for a few years. Turkey Bones would quickly become Turkey Joints as the candy gained popularity.

The History of Candyland

In 1921, Kekis and Haritatos traveled east to Rome, NY where they decided to open a new restaurant called, "Candyland." They knew they had a winner in their sweet and crunchy "Turkey Joints" - so they added them to the menu and watched demand for their unique treat grow. "There were 8 Haritatos brothers involved with the restaurant and Turkey Joints back then," said Spero Haritatos who now owns the candy shop with his wife Sharon. Haritatos said the restaurant ultimately became legendary, and much to everyone's surprise, so did the Turkey Joints.

The restaurant Candyland would continue to operate through good and very bad times over the course of 51 years, when in 1972, it finally closed its doors. Still, one thing was obvious that through thick and thin, through a depression and a world war, a constant top-seller for Candyland was the Turkey Joints. So, Tasos Haritatos, Speros' father, decided to buy the Turkey Joint recipe, and all of the unique original candy machinery that helped create them over the decades. Tasos was an employee of Candyland which was owned by his brothers and over the years he had become an expert at making the now famous candy. So, with the equipment used to manufacture them and the original Turkey Joint recipe secure in his possession, he set up shop in his home on Doxtator Street in Rome. Haritatos named the candy shop after his wife Nora, and Nora's Candy Shop featured the original Candyland Turkey Joints, and several other chocolate treats.

After Nora passed away in 1983, Tasos retired and handed the candy operation down to his son Spero (who is now the current owner with his wife Sharon). Spero immediately trademarked the name "Original Candyland Candy Turkey Joints," which became a registered trademark shortly thereafter.

"It's true that my dad gave the Nora's Candy Shop to me after my mom passed away, but what people don't know is that after a year of operating it, I tried to give it back to him," said Spero. Haritatos said his dad wouldn't take it back, and the rest has become "Candyland" history.

Over the years, many major candy companies have tried to buy the candy recipe from the Haritatos family, and each time Spero and Sharon have rejected the offer. Turkey Joints are still made with the very same ingredients, and with the very same proprietary candy making machinery that's been pumping out the unique candy for decades.

During an interview in 2005, Haritatos said the way Turkey Joints are made is a trade secret, and if it wasn't for the machinery and the decades old process, "they just wouldn't be Turkey Joints."

The David and Goliath Trademark Lawsuit - Candyland Turkey Joints vs. Hasbro

In 1996, the name "Candyland" was trademarked, registered and marked as belonging to the Haritatos family. But, in 2002 Hasbro - owners of the Candyland board game, attempted to trademark the name "Candyland" for use by its subsidiary TRU (Toys R Us) which would use the name to sell candy and confectionary goods at its toy stores, including the world's largest toy store in Times Square, New York.

In July of 2005, Haritatos filed suit against TRU and Hasbro for violating their trademark protections. Following years of litigation, the Haritatos family couldn't keep up with the legal fees associated with a lengthy trademark lawsuit against such a conglomerate - and they were forced to settle and give up the "Candyland" name, according to Haritatos.

Haritatos says the way the lawsuit ended, was legendary.

"We were all sitting in the court room with Hasbro and Toys R Us when it just dawned on me that we could never keep up with Hasbro because they had such deep pockets," said Haritatos. He said, he slammed his fist onto the table and said "enough is enough" and asked Hasbro what it would take to end the suit. "I kicked my $500 an hour attorney out of the court room and Hasbro kicked Toys R Us out, and I just said what will it take to end this," said Haritatos. He said a settlement was reached and that's the reason Candyland is no longer used in Turkey Joint's branding.

Now You Know the Story...So, Buy Local This Easter

Why not aim for better quality and shopping local when out comes to purchasing Easter candy this year?

People think of Nora's Candy Shop in Rome at Christmas for the famous Turkey Joints, but, not everyone remembers Nora's for their incredible high quality Easter chocolate and candy, right at their shop in Rome.

You'll find chocolate Easter fudge, chocolate footballs and basketballs, chocolate Turkey Joints, peanut butter cups, different types of Turkey Joints, and so much more. Nora's is also known for their solid milk chocolate Easter bunnies in the 8 oz. size packaged in a box, all the way up to the enormous custom made bunnies that will fill up a room. Our family's favorite is the large Easter basket made out of chocolate, and then filled with all sorts of additional chocolates and candies. It's the perfect dinner table centerpiece.

Think Nora's Easter candy this year as they're open every day until Easter, at 321 North Doxtator Street in Rome. Monday through Thursday from 10AM-4PM, Friday from 10AM-3PM and Saturday 10AM-2PM. You can also purchase online at their website.

Blame the Immigrants for the Tradition of Candy at Easter

Easter baskets weren't always filled with treats like jelly beans, gift cards and of course, chocolate in many forms. This is another American tradition that came from...you guessed it...immigrants.

German immigrants who came to the United States in the late 18th century brought along their Easter traditions including, the rabbit, the eggs, and the basket to put it all in. But it wasn't until the 19th century when chocolate molds paved the way for chocolate rabbits or bunnies at Easter time.

The tradition of baskets and colored eggs also dates back to the German settlers who came to North America in the 1700s. Children would create baskets or nests in the garden where the Easter Bunny would place colored Easter eggs as treats. Hiding of the Easter eggs also came with the Germans who brought with them several games and traditions that tied the rabbit to springtime and Easter.

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