Florida citrus makes for delicious marmalade, candy in Dundee

Family-owned business selling citrus sweets for 50 years

POLK COUNTY, Fla. – It's been five decades of heavenly marmalade, jelly and citrus candy bliss for one local mom and pop shop.

Tom Davidson is president of Davidson of Dundee, a family-run business just off Highway 27 in Polk County.

"When my father built this factory, there was no Disney World, SeaWorld or any of those things," Davidson said.

He recalled growing up among lots of sweets and citrus. 

"If we had a really good day at work whether that was out in the groves or in the warehouses loading the trucks, it was always nice to get a bag of citrus candy or peanut brittle," Davidson said. 

A quaint little factory that remains intact since opening day. 

"This is how it was in 1967, that's how it is today -- nothing's really changed. We didn't spend money on architects. This is the building, this is the facility, this is everything," Davidson said.

Throughout the years, the factory became an attraction of its own, offering free tours and samples to tantalize taste buds. Visitors get an up-close look at how Davidson of Dundee's more than 100 marmalade and jelly flavors are made and what goes into making the popular citrus candy.

It's all made with Florida-grown produce.

"We've got the navel oranges and then we'll also use some Valencia oranges," Davidson said. "We've got pure cane Florida sugar that we're using so that works out great. Everything is made the old fashioned way."

The factory uses large copper kettles and big wooden spoons for the production of citrus candy. For Davidson, it's also about making sure his parents' legacy continues for decades to come.

"My parents would say, 'We're a small company, in order to stand out and to make people want to come back, you know, you've gotta use the best ingredients you can find, you gotta be careful with everything you're making, no short cuts, make everything right.'"

About the Author: