Food & Drink

Mary Sue Candies Celebrates 75 Years of Making Easter Eggs

The legacy of Samuel Specter, who began making the chocolate creams out of a rowhome in Southwest Baltimore in the 1940s, lives on today.
—Photography by Justin Tsucalas

Time was, a Russian immigrant named Samuel “Sacha” Specter made marmalade out of his rowhome at 601 S. Smallwood Street in Southwest Baltimore. And though some of the details are lost to history, what’s for certain is that every Easter, he went from making marmalade to creating sweet treats in the form of chocolate eggs for the kids in his neighborhood.

In 1948, realizing he was on to something, he and his friend Harry Gerwig founded Mary Sue Candies, naming the business after Gerwig’s daughters (both of whom became nuns).

“Out of a rowhouse, they made these buttercreams,” says Bill Buppert, president of Ruxton Chocolates, which purchased Mary Sue from the Specter family in 2001. “And as the business grew, they took over the house next to them and made them out of that basement. Pretty soon, they were making the eggs out of four or five basements—and they’re the very same ones we make today.”

Sadly, Gerwig passed away only a year after the company’s founding, so he never got to see it truly flourish. But the legacy lives on. As Mary Sue celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, other than the company’s location, very little has changed.

Between January 1 and February 15, Mary Sue makes millions of eggs by hand, melting the ingredients in copper pots. Through the years, ever-faithful fans have written love letters about the famous foil-wrapped candy and sent them to the company from far and wide.

“We don’t put our street address on our packaging,” says Buppert. “It’s the city, state, and ZIP code. Still, we get mail addressed to ‘Mary Sue Candies, Baltimore, MD, 21220,’ so the post office always seems to find us. It’s like sending a letter to Santa at the North Pole.”