ST. LOUIS — After Dan Abel Sr. left home to study candy-making, he returned home with ambitions of launching his own business.
“When he came back to St. Louis, he wanted to open up his own candy company. He wanted to just have a small batch operation with a retail store in the front,” said his son, Dan Abel Jr.
That candy company, Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate Co., has expanded tremendously since opening its initial location in 1981 in the city’s St. Louis Hills neighborhood. Today, Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate has six retail locations, 50 full-time employees and 55,000 square feet of manufacturing space.
The company, owned by the Abel family, has retail locations on The Hill and in St. Louis Hills, Kirkwood, St. Charles, St. Peters and Edwardsville. Dan Abel Sr. and his wife, Rosalie, remain involved in the business. They are helped by a second generation, which includes three of their children — Dan, Christina and Christopher.
The family last year acquired fellow St. Louis chocolatier Bissinger’s, which it operates as a separate business entity from its other brands. That acquisition culminated several years of rapid growth for the business.
Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate in 2012 opened a new 30,000-square-foot factory on The Hill. That footprint didn’t last long. The company expanded again in 2018, acquiring 25,000 square feet nearby on The Hill.
“We were saying ‘what’s next thing now’ because we were growing at double digits every year and it's very exciting to do that,” said Abel Jr., the company’s vice president of operations. “As we were searching for the next big thing to do, Bissinger’s became for sale.”
The company’s growth has come amid a rapidly changing industry.
“I would say that the industry has changed as much as the tech industry has changed,” Abel Jr. said. “Some people don’t see it because we, for example, make the same milk vanilla caramels that you got as a kid at our Chippewa store.”
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