Drew’s Chocolates–Dexter, Iowa

Helen Drew started making black walnut fudge in her home at the west edge of Dexter in 1927, using a recipe she’d gotten from relatives New England. They made six trays of it and put a sign up, “Mrs. Drew’s Candy Shop.”

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From a Des Moines newspaper.

This was the Depression Era, but the main highway between Des Moines and Omaha ran right by their home. Motorists and truckers stopping in town for gas would also visit the shop.

Des Moines Sunday Register, about 1968

They branched out with other kinds of candies, experimenting and perfecting, but using the old method of hand dipping each piece.

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Longtime employees Betty Lenocker and Vivian Clausen. Betty started working there when she was 18, and worked there part time even after she’d retired.

During WWII people ordered Drew’s Chocolates to send to servicemen. My grandmother sent Drew’s Chocolates to relatives on the West Coast every Christmas, and sent it to my husband when he served in Vietnam.

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Drew’s Chocolates are still made and sold in the basement of the same house along White Pole Road. They still ship chocolates all over the United States, and even to other countries.

Des Moines newspaper, 1957; 1968 Dexter Centennial history

Historian Rod Stanley’s “Sweet Success Story” about Drew’s Chocolates.

There’s a short Valentine story that includes Drew’s Chocolates in Leora’s Dexter Stories: The Scarcity Years of the Great Depression.



  1. Oh so good. I remember Grandma Wilson taking us there and Donna and I running around and around where they were making the different chocolates. It was fun until we got told to start acting like young ladies. We were maybe 5 or 6 but we knew what that meant.

  2. Loved this article. She was my great grandma. I remember my grandmother bringing Drew’s chocolates for Christmas. They were delicious. Thank you so much for writing this article and for the lovely pictures. Best in your endeavours.

    • Oh, thanks for responding to this! My aunt was in Helen Drew’s class at Dexter High School. We even toured the candy kitchen when I was in junior high at Dexter. Fifty years ago, my grandmother even sent Drew’s Chocolates to my husband who was stationed in Vietnam!

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