Spring is in the air and things are hopping at Anthony-Thomas Candy Co., located near Hilliard on Arlingate Drive.

Spring is in the air and things are hopping at Anthony-Thomas Candy Co., located near Hilliard on Arlingate Drive.

The candy maker recently held the 10th annual open house at its present location, drawing nearly 4,000 people to watch buckeyes, turtles, chocolate-covered strawberries and Easter bunnies being made in the 152,000-square-foot factory.

"We were at full capacity," said retail director Candi Trifelos, a fourth-generation member of the family-owned business founded in Columbus in 1952 by Anthony Zanetos and his son, Thomas.

"Christmas is our biggest holiday, followed by Easter and then Valentine's Day," Trifelos said. Premium candy, she said, doesn't sell as well at Halloween.

"The thing that's unique about Easter is that it's all-new product. At Christmas, we're selling our regular line, but at Easter our focus is on a whole new line of products. In a sense, getting ready for everything makes it a bigger holiday. There's more hoopla about it in the candy industry. Easter is a candy holiday."

Anthony-Thomas makes chocolate bunnies in all sizes, ranging from two ounces to 35 pounds. People actually buy the latter, Trifelos said.

"People say they use it for centerpieces, and after Easter, they cut it up and box it up and give it to everyone in the family."

Anthony-Thomas also makes crosses, baskets and other Easter-themed chocolate confections. The cream-filled chocolate eggs can be personalized by writing a name in icing at their 14 stores.

In addition, Anthony-Thomas sells pectin-made jelly beans, "the only one that we know of on the market," Trifelos said.

"Pectin is a much better-quality ingredient. It's the real fruit that flavors the jelly bean as opposed to a sugar-based starch. They are made special for us. It's a huge part of our business at Easter."

The company also sells make-your-own Easter baskets. The basket comes with grass, bow and the outer bag. Customers then go around the store and select the candy to add to it.

Then again, you could buy an Easter basket assembled by Joanne Hosey.

Columbus resident Hosey, 75, has worked at Anthony-Thomas for 37 years.

"We bring the supplies in, and she designs the baskets," Trifelos said. "About a week ago, we said we'll send a couple people down to help her. She said, 'I don't need any help. They'll just mess it up.' "

"You just put in your grass first, and then you pick out what kind of candy you have," Hosey said from the factory floor as several imported, pre-woven baskets were waiting to be filled with a colorful assortment of candies.

"Some of everything goes in each basket," she said. "We have a pattern we go by."

The basket maker said she enjoys telling her 11 grandchildren that she's the Easter bunny's helper.