Mary Butler’s legendary toffee is routinely shipped from Chapel Hill to places as far as Austria and Japan.
Butler, who discovered her love of making candies decades ago, started Carolina Confectionery Company after being urged to by friends.
“I started when my kids went off to college just making toffee and chocolates for my friends and family,” Butler said. “They kept telling me I should make them more available so I thought, ‘Why not?’”
On Halloween, a day typically devoted to candy consumption, Butler plans on making pumpkin truffles and witch-shaped chocolates.
Though Butler doesn’t usually see a spike in sales on Halloween because of the gourmet nature of her treats, she is preparing for the onslaught of orders that comes with the holiday season.
“I make chocolate pumpkins filled with toffee for Thanksgiving that people like to give to their friends and coworkers,” Butler said.
She works from home, taking phone calls and making custom candies in her kitchen.
She used to have a shop in Chatham County, but found the flexibility of working at home more suitable.
“I make all of my candy according to what people ask for,” Butler said. “Once, a company in North Carolina wanted shark’s tooth chocolate, so they sent me a real old shark’s tooth, and I made a mold from it just for them.”
Her most popular candy — and the one she likes best — is her toffee, which she makes using her mother’s recipe.
Anna Tabor, an old friend of Butler’s and a regular customer, said her toffee is the best she has ever tasted.
“She used to make it for Christmas and I would hide it from my husband and kids. It was that good,” Tabor said.
Tabor’s husband was Butler’s first customer when she opened shop.
“Mary doesn’t have to advertise a lot. She has a lot of followers who appreciate that her stuff is all handmade,” Tabor said. “It’s mostly word-of-mouth.”
Butler’s customers don’t just come from North Carolina — a map in her home that tracks where her orders come from has marks in almost every state and a few foreign countries.
When business started growing, Butler’s daughter Whitney Goodman decided she would help out.
“My mom’s a perfectionist and it’s hard for her to delegate, so I thought I would help,” Goodman said.
She said she mostly helps with packaging and making the toffee.
“I know I’m her daughter, but she really does make really nice chocolates,” she said.
Butler said her favorite part of her job is the customers.
“I get a lot of positive interaction because usually when people are buying candy it’s for happy reasons,” she said.
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