Lesli Kunkle, The Alumni Who Chased Her Chocolate Dreams


Kaitlyn Dealy, Reporter

Lesli Kunkle is a hard-working alumni that graduated in 2008, with many dreams and ambitions. Since graduation, her life and job have revolved around chemistry, mathematics and most importantly chocolate! 

Kunkle was your average “grade-A-student” who enjoyed school. Due to being a very focused student, Kunkle knew early in her high school career that she wanted to be an engineer, so she took chemistry class (along with several other classes that could affect her career path) very seriously.

During her junior year, in that exact chemistry class, Kunkle decided that she wanted to major in Chemical Engineering. Her chemistry teacher Bev Whiteford said “Lesli was fortunate to discover her passion for the sciences as she began to take her high school courses. She recognized her own interest and put in great effort to develop them.”

Throughout the rest of her high school career, Kunkle focused on balancing homework and extracurricular activities like students for Christ, national honor society, drama club and thespian society, which all better developed her time-management skills. In fact Kunkle claims that “effective time management is crucial in both college and the workforce.”

As for the workforce, Kunkle was hired into her dream job in 2017. After graduating from high school and from the University of Pittsburgh, Kunkle became a chemical engineer within the Wolfgang Confectioners factory. She works extremely hard, every single day, to provide candy that (as Kunkle says) “blesses the lives of others.”

In 1921, Wolfgang Confectioners factory was founded as D.E Wolfgang Candy Company. Wolfgang has always been a Pennsylvania-grown company. Wolfgang does not manufacture any of their own branded candy, but rather, they produce products for customers under bigger brand names.

Wolfgang Confectioners makes a variety of specialized items such as Non-GMO, Gluten Free and Organic products. As for making those products everyday, Kunkle said, “I love my job. There are some stressful days, but everyday we have fun, we laugh and we are always a team”.

Having only been working at Wolfgang for two years, she has already moved up to many different positions. For example, she started out as an intern. After being an intern for some time, Kunkle moved up to being an analyst then to being a supervisor. 

She is currently the Food Safety and Quality Assurance Manager, which she said includes “ensuring all products and facilities meet FDA, SQF and customer regulations. And overseeing several programs like, the Supplier Program (to ensure they’re buying safe products), the Customer Complaint Program (in order to properly investigate and respond to each customer concern), the Audit Program (to ensure the company says what they will do and do what they say they will do) and the Sanitation Program (to ensure they’re using appropriate chemicals and methods to maintain a safe environment for candy-making).”

Kunkle loves her job and could not be happier. On top of being able to make many candies everyday, she is able to communicate with extremely educated people and learn new things. Kunkle and other members of the Wolfgang company believe that the company is more than the candies. According to Kunkle, all Wolfgang workers believe that “their candies and hard-work is all to bless the lives of employees, customers, vendors and even the community”.

“I am so proud that she has accomplished all she has and I am fortunate to have been a part of her journey” said Whiteford.