It looks like a typical candy store, with an array of mouthwatering treats, but Edward Marc Chocolatier’s only D.C. location is in the Pentagon and caters only to those with military clearance.
“It’s really special for our family to be able to provide chocolates for the military and it’s become very popular here inside the Pentagon.” said Chris Edwards, who, along with his mother, father, sister and brother, owns and operates the candy store at the Pentagon’s mall, which features retailers and fast-food restaurants.
With Easter just days away, there's already a run on chocolate bunnies. Air Force Master Sgt. Michael Brancato picked up some last-minute goodies Tuesday. He has eight deployments under his belt, so he’s excited to be with his family this year.
“Easter tradition depends on whether I am home or not,” said Bracato, who purchased some chocolate eggs. “This year, I’m home. The kids are going to have a blast.”
The chocolate eggs aren't the only specialty for a business that has remained in the hands of four generations. The store also carries molded chocolate in the shape of the White House, Washington Monument and military seals.
The Edwards use handwritten recipes perfected by great-grandparents Orania and Charlie Sarandou, The Greek immigrants sold their chocolates on the streets of Pittsburgh almost 100 years ago. The family’s factory and store remain there today.
Dana Edwards Matanos and her brothers came to the Washington area and were aides in President George W. Bush’s administration until 2007, leaving politics to become chocolatiers. They were later contacted by the Department of Defense to submit a bid to set up shop in the Pentagon, which is the world's largest office building. There are 23,000 Department of Defense workers who are employed at the massive complex.
Chris Edwards insists the candy store has a non-partisan roster of fans.
“We have put Hilary Clinton’s seal on chocolates,” he said. “We have done chocolates for Nancy Pelosi. We have done chocolates for Sarah Palin. She loves our peanut butter melt-aways.”
But their number one focus is their military customers, who leave armed with candy. Their top sellers at the Pentagon are vanilla salt caramels, terrapins and chocolate-covered strawberries.