There are three candy holidays, or I should say Holy Days, in the United States: Easter, Halloween, and Christmas. I remember as a child, when one of these observed Holy Days approached, my father would open a portal into another world. No matter where we lived at the time, he would take me to some secretive little shop, inconspicuously tucked away off the beaten path. These shops were like walking into a time capsule, with their loads of obscure candies, chocolates, and myriad other snacks, stacked floor to ceiling. Whether in open barrels or giant bags and boxes, I found myself surrounded by untold delights.
These shops are universal, found in some form or another all over the world: Candy Shops in North America, Sweet Shops in the United Kingdom, Lolly Shops in Australia. And though much has changed in the game since I was a child, there’s one thing that hasn’t: when you are serious about your sweets, you don’t go to a drugstore, grocery store or convenience store. You go to a candy shop. And if you want to do it in New York City, you can’t go wrong with these institutions.
The Classic: Economy Candy
Economy Candy is the quintessential OG candy shop. As humble beginnings go, it doesn’t get more humble than this former shoe and hat repair shop. Wait, what? A shoe and hat repair shop? Yes. When the Depression hit, the only thing that was selling was the candy in the pushcart outside, so in 1937 it morphed into the candy mecca it is today.
Run by the third generation of the founding family, Economy Candy sells exactly what you would expect: candy, chocolate, gift baskets, dried fruit, nuts and much more. But a visit to this legendary space is more than just about procurement of your favorite sweets, it’s an experience in and of itself–a rare window into bygone days. Oh, and if you’re worried about finding that particular confection you haven’t tasted since childhood, Economy Candy has you covered. As the proprietors have said in one form or another over the years: “If we don’t have it, they don’t make it anymore.”
Whether you’re looking to shop by decade, country, occasion, or color, you’ll find unlimited options here. But our favorite thing to peruse at Economy Candy are the novelty items: Blue Q Gum boxes with witty captions, a Bob Ross Flavor Palette with a paintbrush-shaped candy stick, Dill Pickle Mints… you get the gist. It doesn’t matter if you’re looking for that perfect stocking stuffer or just buying yourself a little treat, it’s sure to bring a smile to your face.
108 Rivington St
Sunday 9 am – 6 pm
Monday & Saturday 10 am – 6 pm
Tuesday – Friday 9 am – 6 pm
The Upstart: Dylan’s Candy Bar
Disclosure: Dylan’s Candy Bar gifted us a VIP Tour of their flagship location, but all the opinions expressed here are our own.
Born of a different legacy family, Dylan Lauren, daughter of the famous fashion mogul Ralph, had a vision. She wanted to “merge the worlds of art, fashion, and pop culture with candy” with the goal of “creating the world’s largest confectionery emporium and lifestyle brand.” It certainly doesn’t get much more ambitious than that. But pay a visit to the flagship location of Dylan’s Candy Bar, and you will not be able to argue with her success.
Dylan references Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory when speaking about her inspiration, but we found ourselves drawn to another comparison of equally important cultural significance: The Jetsons. Economy Candy is a glorious step into the past, while Dylan’s Candy Bar is an exciting step into the future. It is modern, sleek, pathologically organized, and thoughtfully curated. From the moment you walk in the door and the sweet smell hits your nose (is that vanilla marshmallow–dear God, it is!), to the giant lollipop tree you see upon entering the store, you know this isn’t your Grandfather’s candy shop.
The flagship location features an incredible selection of chocolates and candies from the Who’s Who of confection makers. But you’ll also find unique gifts, toys, games and lifestyle products. And with an ice cream parlor, a candy cocktail bar, and party rooms on the premises, this is where sweet dreams come to life. Whether you’re feeling nostalgic about that long lost inner-child who stockpiled candy in a tin box under the bed, or you just need that perfect gift for your niece’s Sweet Sixteen party, you’re in good hands at Dylan’s Candy Bar.
1011 Third Ave
Monday – Tuesday 10 am – 9 pm
Monday & Saturday 10 am – 11 pm
Sunday 10 am – 9 pm
The Import: BonBon
We often wax poetic about how you can travel the world without leaving New York City, and BonBon is yet another example that proves us deliciously right. Founded by three Swedish transplants (two of whom went to high school together in Malmö), the Swedish candy company offers a wide, though not overwhelming, selection in a bright, cheery space. Their tagline “Growing Up Is A Trap” captures the sense of joy attached to their brand identity. Founder Selim Adira was a restaurant professional attached to Marcus Samuelsson’s Aquavit and Red Rooster eateries, and he says moving over to the world of candy was “just pure fun”.
Licorice is a Scandinavian staple, and BonBon offers enough varieties to convert you. The chocolate-licorice blends are gateway products, and you’ll find yourself chewing on those Raspberry Licorice Foamy Skulls in no time. But licorice isn’t the only thing on the menu; far from it. BonBon offers sweet, sour and marshmallow gummy varieties, chocolates, and other Swedish classics. In the summer, their soft serve ice cream includes a licorice flavor and comes with decidedly Swedish add-ons like hazelnut sauce.
BonBon is an excellent option for gift boxes (in their signature pink shade), and if you happen to be local, they even deliver. Or perhaps you’d like a candy bar at your next shindig–well, no worries, just rent theirs. When you’re in the store, you’re always welcome to ask for a recommendation, which the staff will tailor to your tastes after asking you a few questions. And in our experience, sampling has always been encouraged. Once you’ve made your selections, pick-and-mix all your favorites into a bag, which is then priced by weight. The next time you head to Sweden, you’ll be snacking like a local.
Pro Tip: If you’re looking for gluten-free, sugar-free, or gelatin-free options, BonBon has something that will fit your requirements. Just ask!
130 Allen St
Daily 10 am – Midnight
Like it? Pin it!