At the heart of Hancock County is one thing: the community. The people who make up the community are unique and diverse in interests, backgrounds, and stories. Over the next few months we will be highlighting members of the community that you may see behind a shop counter, at an event, or in the grocery store and their stories. This month we will be featuring Erika Dietsch-Brokamp, the third generation co-owner of Dietsch Brothers Fine Chocolates and Ice Cream.
The history of Dietsch Brothers is nearly as good at Dietsch’s chocolate covered pretzels. Correctly pronounced to rhyme with “peach” Dietsch Brothers is a staple to the Hancock County community. Dietsch Brothers originally opened in the late 1920’s when Edward Dietsch purchased the C.W. Wickham Candy Company, alongside his two younger brothers Chris and Don, opened the candy and ice cream store using the Dietsch Family recipes. Edward unexpectedly passed away in 1934 and when his wife, Doris, also passed away at a young age the doors closed. But on December 7, 1937 the Dietsch Brothers you know today opened. Chris (Bud) and Don (Johnny) purchased the Rogge Bakery Shop, and, with the help of the youngest Dietsch Brother, Roy (Snitz), who joined the business upon graduating high school they eliminated the bakery and focused solely on fine chocolates and ice cream, still using the original family recipes. Although sugar was rationed and all three brothers served in World War II, the store was able to stay open with hard work from many of the brothers’ siblings and extended families. Once the three brothers returned home safely they worked long hours and continued to rely upon family members to assist in the store. As the business grew the store needed to accommodate, therefore a new store was built across the street from their original location in 1956. And although it has seen many expansions (one of which is taking place currently!), Dietsch Brothers remains where the main store is today. After the passing of Bud in 1971, Johnny and Snitz continued working and were soon accompanied by Snitz’s three sons: Rick, Jeff and Tom. In 1974 Dietsch Brothers opened the second location on Tiffin Avenue and by the 1980’s Rick, Jeff, and Tom were working full time, allowing the first generation to retire (and still help for several years!). In 1998 the third generation, Jeff’s daughter Erika, joined the family business full time. Throughout the winding story of Dietsch Brothers history several themes remain the same – hard work and family are the key to the business’ success.
As the third generation co-owner of Dietsch Brothers’ Fine Chocolates and Ice Cream Erika Dietsch-Brokamp can share years of fantastic stores from working alongside her family and close friends. Today, Erika works in a managerial capacity, however you will see her doing anything that needs done. From assisting with shipping out orders, delivering wholesale, working behind the counter weighing candy orders, to even working with ice cream (her least favorite job!), Erika has done every job imaginable at Dietsch Brothers. As in many family businesses, Erika began helping at the store when she was a child and began working more and more hours as she became older. Although she left and pursued other job opportunities, she kept feeling the business calling her back. For her, working at Dietsch Brothers is natural and feels like home. And, keeping with the theme, Erika’s favorite memories of working at Dietsch Brothers was working alongside her grandfather out front. Like everyone, Erika has her favorite Dietsch Brothers product! On the candy side she loves the peanut clusters or the s’mores clusters and as for ice cream she enjoys the classic mint chocolate chip. Although Dietsch Brothers has been around for nearly eighty years there is no slowing down for the thriving and successful company. The most recent expansion is nearly complete and will open this summer, which will allow the retail side of Dietsch Brothers to grow and include even more locally made goods, something Erika is especially excited for.
As much as Hancock County loves Dietsch’s, Erika loves Hancock County, especially the people. Erika says she loves how the community is always willing to rally around a cause or event and she is regularly blown away by the support of local businesses, including her own family’s. Even though it is quirky, she and her family love when people come in to the store and take photos of the tile floor and post a “where am I” post on social media or making sure to double check their location has been marked on the large map in the East store (whether that location is Hancock County or Alaska!) is always entertaining. In the same vein, the reason for Dietsch’s polka dot theme in packaging is because of the customers. For many years the half gallon ice cream containers featured little green polka dots on the base and window on the top. When Erika’s grandfather and his brothers chose to have a printed milkshake cup, they picked one with a large dark green pattern (which is similar to the ones still used today) the decision to go with green polka dots in the 1960’s would become almost iconic for their brand and people seem to love that small detail. As a member of The Arts Partnership Board, Erika has seen first hand the support events can be given, and that support is largely the reason why so many of The Arts Partnership events are among Erika’s favorites. Between attending events, going to the different Hancock County parks, dining at local restaurants (especially Rossilli’s!), and spending time with her husband and two sons, Erika is always busy being a part of the Hancock County community, as well as supporting it.
You can find Erika at the main Dietsch Brothers Fine Chocolates and Ice Cream, located at 400 W. Main Cross Street in Downtown Findlay, Tuesday – Friday 9 a.m. – 9 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. and Sundays 1 p.m. – 9 p.m. or at the East Store located at 1217 Tiffin Avenue, which is open Monday – Saturday, 11 a.m. – 9:30 p.m. and Sundays 1 p.m. – 9 p.m.! Dietsch Brothers is also online, and on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Don’t miss out on other community members we have highlighted through the community spotlight series, like Bill Wolf, Jr. of Wolfie’s Nuts! You also don’t want to miss any of the events taking place in Hancock County, check out our event calendar to learn more. Stay busy this summer by checking items off your Hancock County Summer Bucket List, visit a Farmers’ Market, or see how manyhidden gems you can uncover in Hancock County!