SHOWCASING LOUISIANA: Candyman from Jackson makes sweet Christmas treats

SHOWCASING LOUISIANA: Candyman from Jackson makes sweet Christmas treats
J.D. Kent has been making candy treats for about 25 years. (Source: WAFB)

JACKSON, La. (WAFB) - Fire crackles in the fireplace as J.D. Kent sits down to his afternoon reading. Spectacles perched on the bridge of his nose, J.D. lifts a worn sheet of paper from the end table next to his rocking chair. On the paper, a list of names he has kept for 25 years.

SHOWCASING LOUISIANA: Candyman from Jackson, La. makes sweet, homemade Christmas treats

Joan and Richard Dudley made the list years ago. So did Barbara and Spike James. In all, there are close to 200 names.

“I’ve added four more this year already,” J.D. pointed out as he checked the list twice.

“Now, I don’t have a naughty list,” he laughed in spite of himself.

Then, the real work begins. J.D. snaps on a pair of rubber gloves.

J.D. makes lots of different treats for Christmas, including pralines.
J.D. makes lots of different treats for Christmas, including pralines. (Source: WAFB)

“We’re going to use about 28 pounds of chocolate," he said.

You see, in Jackson, La., people call J.D. the Candyman. Today, he’s making chocolate-covered cherries... a lot of them. With a spoon, he scoops a piece of homemade butter and sugar filling and gently wraps a maraschino cherry, then places it onto a tray with the others. He will make 300 to 350 this Christmas season.

But that’s not all...

The Candyman makes turtles, divinity, pralines, peanut butter cups, goldbricks, and half a dozen other tasty treats. He’s got a second list to keep track of those.

J.D points to his list.

“Up to now, I’ve made 291 pralines, 257 pieces of fudge, 262 pieces of divinity," he said.

The chocolate treats cover a full page.

It’s a Christmas tradition J.D. started 25 years ago with a couple of batches of fudge for some church friends. Since then, his list has grown steadily.

“Every year, I usually lose a couple,” he chuckled. “And gain four or five.”

It’s a massive undertaking, but at 75-years-old, J.D. does not show any signs of slowing down.

“I do it,” he said, “mainly because I love to put smiles on people’s faces.”

J.D. gives away all his homemade treats for Christmas.
J.D. gives away all his homemade treats for Christmas. (Source: WAFB)

Candy trays crowd J.D.'s kitchen from Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve; a dozen recipes passed from grandmother to mother to son.

“This year, I’ll use 55 pounds of sugar, eight pounds of real butter, 60 pounds of pecans,” he rattled off the contents of his supply closet.

Every year, J.D. works for the entire month crafting thousands of pieces of candy. It’s a costly tradition, but his candy is a gift money cannot buy.

You see, come Christmas week, J.D. just gives it away to the people on his list.

“It does my heart good,” he said. “And it just gives you a real good feeling inside to know that you’re doing something for somebody, that they didn’t ask you for it.”

J.D.'s is indeed a sweet list to be on.

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