By Anita Oh

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — For family after family, walking through the Termini Brothers Bakery is the only way to begin Christmas Eve.

“My dad did it. His dad did it. And it’s just tradition,” said Mario Scalora of Wilmington, Del. “It’s what we do every Christmas Eve.”

“This is my thirtieth year or so,” said Joe Tortelli of South Jersey.

“We’re from Baltimore and as a family, we’ve been coming for 13 years,” explained Maggie Gallagher.

Some got their place in line on South 8th Street as early as midnight — before doors opened at 6 a.m.

(credit: Hadas Kuznits)

(credit: Hadas Kuznits)

“It’s been a very early morning but we were all up at the crack of dawn ready to go, what 4 a.m.?” said Ryan Pelligrino, from Baltimore.

“It’s amazing. I just want to touch it all,” said Caroline Scalora, of Wilmington, Del. “I want to eat it all.”

It’s been a decades-long labor of love for Vincent Termini Sr., who took over the family business in 1976 — 55 years after his father started whipping up the cannolis that would make their mark on Philadelphia and beyond.

“It makes my heart feel so good when I see some people come – one guy has been doing this 35 years,” Vincent Sr. noted. “It makes it worth every minute of what you do.”

Now, he welcomes the same faces on Christmas Eve each year.

“It’s my honor to have them here.”

The Komondors make the drive from Maryland — ensuring Termini Brothers’ cannolis are always part of their Christmas spread. They even pass down a Termini Brothers’ Bakery t-shirt from generation to generation.

“It’s everything. It’s tradition. It makes Christmas special,” said Greg Komondor.

“We’ve passed down the shirt from grandpa, my husband and now my son wears the shirt every year,” added Lisa Komondor.

So to keep the legacy alive, a third generation of Terminis — sons, Vincent Jr., and Joseph — is hard at work.

“[My father] saw these people grow up. Literally, generation to generation… Just to experience this is unbelievable. This is what Christmas is all about,” said Vincent Jr.

 

And the secret is that there’s so much more to these cannolis than cheese and chocolate chips.

“It’s all about family,” Vincent Sr. explained.

It’s about the love of loved ones — the commitment to quality — the dedication felt in every bite.

“He treats us like family and he’s our family as well,” said Mario.

(credit: Hadas Kuznits)

(credit: Hadas Kuznits)

And they say the one you’ve got to try is the original ricotta cannoli with chocolate chips.