Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Things that Won’t Be There Anymore: Baldinger’s (updated)

Baldinger'sA couple of years ago I was in Pittsburgh visiting family and because my brother knows how to show me a good time, we went to Baldinger’s.

Baldinger’s is in Zelienople in Butler County north of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and billed themselves as having Foods from All Nations. What they were known for though was their incredible candy selection, including their actual penny candy that cost a penny a piece.

Baldinger’s was a family affair, started by Dorothy & Allen Baldinger in 1933. They started as a roadside fruit stand and carried other food items and items like cookie cutters and later found that the candy was a real hit. After the Baldinger’s died, the store passed to Dorothy’s sister, Lois Dodge. Dodge left the day-to-day business of the store to Betty Sabo, who managed the store, she started working there in 1943 as a teenager. But the land under the store was recently closed with the understanding that the store would stay open as long as Betty Sabo continued to manage the store. This was complicated recently when the owner, Lois, passed away. The store is slated to close in June of this year.

Organized Candy

While the rest of the world seemed to pass them by, including I-80 and the Turnpike leaching more traffic from route 19, they never even updated the original cash register that never rang more than $9.99. When I was there, my purchases were written up on a slip of paper, added by hand but the cashier.

Baldinger’s boasted an excellent collection of candies. Much of it was bulk items and classic hard-to-find items like anise squares, Nik-l-Nips, wax lips and Mary Janes. They had seasonal candies as well, as that’s half the fun of candy along with candy bars from all over the country, limited editions and not the just the biggies. I also found a great selection of Dutch and other European Licorices and at only $6 a pound (half of what I pay for them at other places in San Francisco).


If you’re in the neighborhood before summer, it’s definitely worth a trip to see them, a little piece of history, before it’s gone. It’s a completely different kind of nostalgia than the manufactured (Dylan’s Candy Bar) and franchised (Powell’s Sweet Shoppe) style that has replaced it. (It’s kind of in the Economy Candy style.)

The penny candy selection is what I’d call “obligatory” since it contains very small pieces of candy, all made in Brazil or Mexico and not any names you’d recognize. But once you get up into the five cent and by the pound stuff, it’s all pretty good. I picked up individually wrapped Goetze’s Caramel Creams, various boxes of Lemonheads & other fruit heads, a full set of Pearson’s, a limited edition Take 5 chocolate cookie, Boyer’s Mallo Cup & Smoothie. I also got a bunch of Peerless candies (but I just ate those, they weren’t for reviewing). All the prices were great when I was there 65 cents for any candy bar (they also had some import consumer bars) and the bulk candy ranged from $2.00 a pound to $4.00 a pound. Mind you this was 2006, but I doubt that much has changed.

Read more about the store: The Pittsburgh Channel (with video) & Pittsburgh Post Gazette, Wikipedia.

22105 Perry Hwy
Zelienople, PA 16063
Phone: (724) 452-9310

UPDATE 4/9/2008: It looks like Baldinger’s may get a new location and continue! Check out this story in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. I’ll check up on the new space next time I’m in Pittsburgh.

UPDATE 5/29/2008: The new address is 519 Perry Highway (Rte 19) - they’ll be across the street from the Exxon station. They expect to move into the larger space sometime in July. So if you’re planning on stopping by this summer, just call ahead to see where they’re at.

POSTED BY Cybele AT 2:12 pm Tracker Pixel for Entry     CandyI Miss9-YummyFeatured NewsShopping

  1. What a shame this little gem will be closing! Maybe I need to make the couple hour road trip to western PA to check it out…

    In the meantime, I hope you feel better and get well soon! smile

    Comment by Sera on 2/19/08 at 5:23 pm #
  2. That is so sad about this little treasure!  I hope you feel better soon!

    Comment by kat on 2/19/08 at 5:58 pm #
  3. Thanks for the great photos and memories. How sad to see a place like this fade away. And oh, what I would give for a Mallow Cup right now! Feel better.

    Comment by elizabethw on 2/20/08 at 4:18 am #
  4. I grew up in Pittsburgh and Baldingers was just a wonderland to me and my brother. I’m on the verge of tears reading your post today.  This is probably the worst thing that could happen..this place is a Landmark..someone save it!!!

    Comment by Jen Smit on 2/20/08 at 11:23 am #
  5. Aww, I hate it when the mom and pop places shut down.  Wish I could make it out there to see it at least once, but I’m way across the country.

    Well, here’s to Baldinger’s and hoping you get better soon.

    Comment by Porgy on 2/20/08 at 9:13 pm #
  6. Your piece got mentioned on Serious Eats:

    It’s so sad to see places like that disappearing.

    Comment by Gigi on 2/21/08 at 5:30 pm #
  7. I used to work in a place like this. It was quite rewarding to see the joy on peoples’ faces when they’d come in and see lines of jars on wooden shelves. The expat Brits were especially warmed by it since the shop carried a lot of British imports. It shut down recently too. Sad.

    Comment by Robin on 2/22/08 at 12:37 pm #
  8. What a nice story on a store I have gone to for 60 years but it isn’t closing just relocating to a new building closer to Zelienople and yes worth the trip to see.

    Comment by sharon on 10/29/08 at 10:54 am #
  9. Waahh :D A candy paradise! I just read it was recreated in its original form somewhere else? Will there be more posts about this place on your blog? Or is it too far apart fro your living place?

    Very well made sweets reviews and your page design makes all easy accessible too smile There are quite a few candy blogs which are designed like the owners would live solely on HFCS and artificial food colorings…

    Comment by litsa on 11/24/08 at 4:06 pm #
  10. Baldingers is on the right going north on route 19 berfore you get into Zelienope.

    Comment by Kevin Kimmerling on 3/08/09 at 9:00 am #
  11. I was browsing the web and was very excited to see that Baldinger’s now has a website!  The address is http://www.baldingerscandy.com

    You can get store hours, directions, and see photos of the new store.  You can also email them to let them know how much you love their store!

    Comment by Great Candy on 4/16/09 at 2:06 am #

    Comment by Emily on 6/12/09 at 6:09 pm #
  13. Cybele's avatar

    Emily - you did not take the time to read the entire post, which includes the fact that the store moved and the new address.

    (So please, withhold your “not true” comments for stories that actually aren’t true. And try not to use all caps.)

    Comment by Cybele on 6/12/09 at 6:13 pm #
  14. Long-time fans of Baldinger’s but didn’t realize until I saw the blogs that the old store is closed.  Well, as long as there is a replacement!  Used to take my boys there when they were little and Mrs. Baldinger was still alive.  She would put them on her knee and give them a little toy.  Still try to get there every year when I’m back home.

    Comment by Bonnie on 11/11/09 at 4:27 am #
  15. If I lived close by I would definitely visit
    your store.  I love candy. I would like to
    eat the old fashioned candy of yesteryear.

    Comment by Diane Martino on 1/26/10 at 7:26 am #
  16. i want to go to your store but i dont live by but when i get ti pittsburgh i will defitly go to your store !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  <3

    Comment by Alyssa on 1/28/10 at 10:35 am #
  17. Nice , Baldinger’s in the USA, I’m born in the Netherlands, Amsterdam 1950.  When I ever go to the great USA, I’ll visit this place !!!  Jack (Sjaak) Baldinger !!!

    Comment by Jack Baldinger on 4/10/16 at 5:25 am #
  18. I understand that Baldinger’s = closed now !!  Why, what happen ?  Please give comment !!

    Comment by Jack Baldinger on 4/10/16 at 5:29 am #
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