How a 20-foot-tall chocolate fountain came to exist on Northeast 181st Avenue, halfway to Multnomah Falls, is a love story.

Kipi Doran comes from taffy people. She inherited the 102-year-old Shorthill Taffy Factory from her family, while her now-husband, Dale Fuhr, "is on the chocolate side." His family founded the Candy Basket back in 1938. Doran and Fuhr met as children, when their parents ran sweet shops in the same neighborhood, one on Southeast Division Street, the other on Clay Street.

The two drifted apart before coming together again as adults, still both in the candy business. "We merged our lives and our companies together," Doran says.

In 1991, they relocated their business to Portland's eastern edge as the Candy Basket, and Fuhr designed a Willy Wonka-style font of liquid chocolate to greet visitors.

"He had ideas of grandeur and tourism," says Doran. "We're on the way to Multnomah Falls, and the 20-foot drop mimics the falls."

(Emily Joan Greene)
(Emily Joan Greene)

Not all of the couple's inventive confections are so picturesque. "We molded chocolate poop for a guy who does poop calendars," says Doran. They made Champagne bottles with timepieces in them, and even made cannabis-infused edibles until it became illegal to manufacture cannabis goods within 1,000 feet of a park.

They also plan to add more dramatic displays at the Candy Basket, including either suspending their Aunt Belinda's sailboat from the store's ceiling or filling it with taffy.

The Multnomah Falls of chocolate is their trophy piece, however. "It is a lot of maintenance," admits Doran. "Twenty-eight hundred pounds of chocolate is quite a mess."

And although the fountain may look inviting, Doran cautions visitors the fountain's chocolate is made to cascade smoothly, not to taste good.

"People do stick their finger in it," Doran says. "Don't do that."