Locals and tourists go out of their way to visit the James J. Chocolate Shop, tucked in a business park outside Lake Mills’ historic downtown district. Candymaker and owner James Jarnigo learned the confectionery trade from his Uncle Bill (of Niemann’s Chocolates in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin) and opened his old-fashioned candy store-central kitchen in Lake Mills six years ago; he also maintains a shop in Madison where he originally launched his business in 1988.
Everything is made by hand, using only the finest ingredients in the nearly 80 varieties such as toffees ($28 per pound), boxed chocolates ($15 per half pound), caramels, brittle and hard candy. The roasted nuts, prepared using James’ small-batch copper kettle technique, are a popular purchase and find their way into chocolate clusters, turtles and other recipes. Seasonal treats include molded chocolates, five flavors of hand-pulled candy canes at Christmas, and whipped cream eggs for Easter. James also makes custom-molded candies—the Bucky Badger peppermint molds are a must for University of Wisconsin fans.