Kilwins Chocolates

Kilwins: Watch Your Candy Grow Up, and Then Devour It
Local Expert's Rating:
4 / 5
The Bottom Line:

Kilwins has dominated the Gatlinburg, Tennessee, tourist dessert scene since the 1980s. You'll understand why as you watch the artists at work crafting dazzling dishes. No matter your age, you're never too old to enjoy caramel apples and chocolate ice cream, right?

- The Local Expert Team

Kilwins is a popular restaurant chain that describes its products as “sweet in every sense since 1947.” The company runs more than 100 eateries in 21 states and is especially popular on the Eastern Seaboard. The Kilwins business model targets families on vacation in popular tourist areas. The allure of chocolate and ice cream is a powerful selling point during an active vacation day.

What’s wonderful about Kilwins is that the Gatlinburg store has open windows in the front. Before you enter, you can watch the workers diligently prepare the tasty treats you’re about to devour. There’s an artistry involved in the preparation of sweet treats. If you’ve never watched someone pat out the sheets or carve the decorations, you’ll find yourself hypnotized as you gaze in the window at Kilwins.

The workers at Kilwins love this sort of appreciation. They notice when people stand outside, enraptured by the scene. They might play along and joke with you, putting on a show as they cook. They especially love interacting with kids. If you’re on a family vacation, the candy preparation could wind up as your child’s favorite memory from the trip.

We’re talking about chocolate and ice cream here. Every menu item is a favorite, and picking the best one is like saying which kind of perfect you prefer. Still, if we had to choose, we would recommend:

Caramel Apples
All the caramel made at Kilwins still uses the formula that Don and Katey Kilwin developed in 1947. You’re enjoying a flavor that has stood the test of time.
Sea Salt Caramel Milkshake
The bitterness of the sea salt meshes perfectly with that sublime caramel taste perfected by the Kilwins so long ago.
Chocolate-Covered Twinkie
You always knew that a way existed to make a Twinkie more decadent. This dish is the proof.
New Orleans Praline Pecan
Order your ice cream in a waffle cone to accentuate the flavor.

Insider Tips:
-Join the My Kilwins Club before you depart on your trip. This rewards program is free to sign up for and offers several great benefits. You’ll get discounts on the various dessert options and sometimes even free items. You’ll also learn about seasonal offerings that are available for a limited time only.
-The owner of the Gatlinburg Kilwins hangs out at the store frequently and is proud of his business. Strike up a conversation, and you might get rewarded for saying a kind word. Finally, even if you miss the owner, tell an employee that you’re a part of the rewards program. They often do something special as a demonstration of gratitude for your customer loyalty.