Gluten-Free Snacks at Sweet Pete’s in Jax

Have a sweet tooth but want to enjoy guilt-free, gluten-free snacks? Check out Sweet Pete’s all natural homemade candy in Jacksonville, FL!

Make sure to try the salted caramels, organic cotton candy or homemade chocolates! This is not just a great place for vegan, nut-free or gluten-free alternatives. Visiting Sweet Pete’s in historical downtown Jacksonville is an experience at an old-fashioned candy shop that kids won’t soon forget.

Sweet Pete’s Historical Location

In the early 1900s, the neighborhood of Springfield (located just north of Jacksonville Florida’s downtown district) was home to many affluent residents who had turned to this neighborhood for help after a fire consumed 146 city blocks of the city of Jacksonville.  This tragedy was known as the Great Fire of 1901.  In the mid-1900s, Springfield started to decline due to new road developments that began to isolate the neighborhood.  But today it has become a focus of redevelopment and renewal.   In 2010, the spring issue of Southern Living spotlighted Springfield as the #1 comeback neighborhood in the south.  It is here on Pearl Street in this lovely historic neighborhood that sits an early 20th century house brightly painted with blue, yellow and red trim that beckons kids inside! You won’t miss this one. It is home to Sweet Pete’s Candy Shop – a favorite among Jacksonville locals.  It is not just the home that it is based in that makes this candy shop unique.  They offer, all natural, vegan, nut free, dairy free candies and gluten free snacks!

Sweet Pete’s A Family of Chocolatiers

Peter Behringer, whose quirkiness is a bit reminiscent of Willy Wonka, is the founder of Sweet Pete’s and is not a stranger to the candy business.  He grew up in his parent’s candy shop called Peterbrooke Chocolatier, named after him and his sister.  It is there he learned all about the business by climbing the candy business ladder.  He started at age 12, waiting on customers and putting tissue in bags.  When he finished college he worked as a store manager and continued to move up through position as a plant manager, executive vice president, and finally president.  As Peterbrooke Chocolatier was growing and starting to franchise their shops, he wanted to do something and venture out on his own.  His wife Allison was the director of the franchise relations at the time.  When his mother sold off her stores (which now operate as franchises), Peter relinquished his responsibility of the day-to-day affairs, kept his 20% of the company and set out to do something amazing!

All Natural, Gluten Free Snacks & Candy

A trip to New York City is where they got inspired into their new business venture.  Mr. Behringer and his wife visited the upscale Dylan’s Candy Bar and looked at the ingredients of one of their high-end lollipops.  He was surprised to see that it was made in China and of high fructose corn syrup and red no. 4.  He saw this Dylan’s Candy Bar concept and thought he could do it better.  He focused on making candy that was all natural, pure and simple treats.

At Sweet Pete’s they use all natural ingredients including real sugar cane and natural flavors.  They have 200 kinds of handmade chocolates and candies, 20 flavors of organic cotton candy, and good old fashion sundaes. This candy shop is different from the rest because they pride themselves on offering all natural, vegan, nut-free, dairy-free, gluten free snacks and candy.

More than 7.8 million people in the US have food allergies and 3 million of this group are 18 or younger.   Gluten is a protein found in certain grains like wheat, barley, rye and triticale (a cross between wheat and rye). For children who have celiac disease, it is important for them to follow a gluten free diet because even the slightest morsel of gluten that they come into contact with can cause trouble by releaseing antibodies that attach their intestines.  Sweet Pete’s gives these children treat options with their gluten free snacks and candy.

Sweet Petes Candy Store

Sweet Pete’s Candy Store is a whimsy Victorian home that was spotted by Dane Baird who lived a few blocks away. Dane and the Behringers decided to purchase the house together and open this candy shop. Built in 1911, the team put in about $50,000 in renovations converting this former home into a candy store. One space in the home that remained untouched was the kitchen. Though it is not a commercial kitchen, the home did come with a recently renovated kitchen with all new appliances, countertops and cabinets. It is here where Peter Behringer makes his sweet confections one delicious batch at a time.  He makes 70% of all the candy that is sold in his shop.

The three-story building can be host to any given event on any day. Birthday parties, corporate events, field trips and even weddings have taken place on the property.  They also offer hands-on classes where they reveal their candy making secrets!  Customers can learn how they make their OWN gluten free snacks!

Sweet Pete’s Growing their Business

While Peter is in the back working like a mad scientist developing new delicious confections, his wife Alison works the front counter while generating ideas for expansion.  They would like to start in the wholesale business by bringing their gluten free snacks such as chocolate covered pretzels and their natural lollipops and ship to other stores around the country.  They would target the smaller all-natural food stores but they got their eye on the big prize…Whole Foods Market.  To reach this goal they are looking to expand their space and add a production facility.

So if you live in Jax or you are just passing through Jacksonville, Florida, make sure you take a detour to Springfield to check out this lovely candy shop.  Though they have numerous treats at Sweet Pete’s! Ask any local and they’ll say the homemade sea salt caramels that are the best!

Question of the Day: Do you have a chocolate or vanilla sweet tooth? Leave a comment below!