With its rolling hills, lush forests and scenic lakeside coastlines Ohio has gained national attention for its extensive network of hiking, biking and paddling trails. But a new trail network that emerged last summer highlights another aspect of the Buckeye State arguably just as popular—its namesake candy. The Ohio Buckeye Candy Trail has its roots in the Miami Valley and now includes 37 stops across the state.

Leiann Stewart, executive director of the Miami County Visitors and Convention Bureau, says the trail blossomed out of the Ohio Travel Association’s Ohio Tourism Leadership Academy. “As fall was approaching we began to think about our favorite things at that time of year,” Stewart says. “Football, sweaters, pumpkin lattes and, of course, buckeye candies. So, we asked ourselves, ‘Why not create a candy trail dedicated to this peanut butter and chocolate confection?’”

Each shop that sells the eponymous treat has its own blend of ingredients that makes each unique. Visitors to the region can choose from 10 stops on the trail to explore just in Southwest Ohio alone. Unlike hiking trails, the Buckeye Candy Trail allows guests the ability to choose their own adventure and create their own sweet agenda.

“Visitors can do the Ohio Buckeye Candy Trail at their leisure,” Stewart says. “For a chocolate lover who travels throughout Ohio it provides them a list of chocolate artisans they don’t want to miss. In addition to delicious buckeyes many of these stops have so much more to offer including other gourmet chocolates, nuts, candies, ice cream and cupcakes. Some of them also offer tours so visitors can see how their treats are created.”

But why the emphasis on creating and marketing candy shops as a “trail”? Turns out there are big bucks in buckeyes, as with other types of destination-style tourism, which generated an estimated $46 billion in direct and indirect spending in Ohio last year. A study published by Tourism Economics found direct visitor spending leapt up a billion from 2017’s figures, clocking in around $36 billion. Tourism also is a job creator. The study found Ohio’s tourism industry added 1,000 tourism-related jobs in 2018. All together, about 429,000 paychecks are supported by the state’s tourism industry.

Like Ohio’s other trail systems the Buckeye Candy Trail is a hit. Holly Braden from Holly B’s Sweets in Waynesville told the visitors bureau it was constantly selling out of candy. “They are a small business and in the first couple of months after the candy trail was launched they couldn’t keep enough buckeyes on the shelf,” Stewart says. Sweet-toothed tourists can munch away guilt-free knowing they are contributing to the success of Ohio’s locally owned businesses.