Elk Chocolates were a signature product of the M. M. Johannsen Candy Company, established in Dubuque around 1907. The business originally took up two floors of its building at 260 Main Street, but in less than a year, its footprint had doubled as its reputation for delicious treats grew. The company even sent traveling salesmen out to neighboring states to grow the business further.

Johannsen featured high-end chocolates and hard candies. They sold “satin finish” candies that were shiny and glossy, making them more lavish than their competitors.

Said one gentleman who fondly recalled Johannsen candy, “If you wanted your girl to know you loved her, you gave her a fancy box of Johannsen candy, a wooden one embossed with roses, or a cardboard box with a padded lid covered with pink or lavender satin.”

The store even featured ice cream and a beloved soda fountain alongside glass cases filled with candy. The store made and sold stick candy, horehound, candy bars, and of course, chocolates. Unfortunately, the Johannsen Candy Company didn’t survive the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Members of the Johannsen family actually operated at least three candy and ice cream shops in Dubuque. M. M. (Meinhard) Johannsen had a candy store – the one where Elk’s Chocolates came from – eventually located at the corner of 6th and Locust Streets. His brother Emil on had another ice cream and candy store on Main Street, and their brother John had his candy and ice cream store on Clay Street (now Central Avenue).