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Spotlight on Frankfort: The fourth-generation family-owned business behind the bourbon ball

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Posted at 7:00 PM, Feb 01, 2023

FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — We'll never know what ingredients go into bourbon ball dough. That is a tightly held family secret.

"We don't out all of our family secrets do we?" Rebecca Ruth Chocolates owner Charles Booe laughed.

The rest of how they're made is not as mysterious.

After a machine called an extruder cuts the dough into pieces, they go down a conveyor belt where they're coated in chocolate.

Then, pecans are hand placed on top by a pair of workers.

When the chocolate is cool, the bourbon balls are packed up and ready for customers to purchase.

"Oh I enjoy bourbon and candy!" customer Sharon Morrison, who drove from Louisville, said. "So I like the bourbon balls a lot."

The popular treat was invented in 1938 by Ruth Booe. She and her friend Rebecca founded the business in 1919.

More than 100 years later, Ruth's grandson Charles now owns the business.

"It's a way of life for us," Charles said. "It's not really a business so to speak. It's just what we do."

Over the years, Booe has said no to many people looking to buy the business and profit off of the bourbon ball's success.

He's stood firm. It's all staying in the family.

In fact, with the addition of his daughter Sarah Booe, Rebecca Ruth is now a 4th generation family-owned business.

"I have grown up around this stuff my whole entire life," office manager Sarah Booe said. "I can 100% say that I'm still not sick of it. I snack on a little piece every single day."

Of course, she shares her love for the bourbon ball with many others. There's enough demand that they make more than 3 million a year, and they're expanding. A building on their property is currently under construction.

To go on a candy tour at Rebecca Ruth Chocolates, you can visit their website.