Overwhelming happiness is often described as “feeling like a kid in a candy store.” If your childhood has passed, you can still live out this age-old idiom by traveling back in time the sweetest way. Step into one of America’s best old-school candy shops, where you’ll find chocolates, gummies, suckers, and other sugary snacks manufactured long ago.
You, your parents, your grandparents and maybe even your great-grandparents might remember confections like Whirly Pop, Pixy Stix, Charleston Chew, and candy cigarettes. Modern day treats are up to par, but there’s something about Dubble Bubble and Gummy Sharks that makes you feel youthful and fearless, and these shops stock the classics.
To figure out which candy stores we’d most want to be a kid in, we took a look at the highest-rated and most talked about candy stores on review sites including Yelp, and we also spoke to both food journalists and everyday folks with a sweet tooth for treats in small-town shops.
Furthermore, each selection had to sell chocolates and/or candies that have been around for multiple generations, or homemade goodies using or mimicking old-school recipes for bites like saltwater taffy or butterscotch-covered cashews. Take a trip back in time with us as we visit America’s 22 best old-school candy shops.
As the name suggests, Big Top is circus-themed and beautifully furnished with vintage mementos. The festive shop has a fully-functioning old-fashioned soda fountain and ice cream case, as well as specialty chocolates, fudge, and thousands of new and classic candies, such as rainbow Whirly Pops, rock candy, and Pixy Stix. You can even buy a cola-flavored pug pop!
Black River promises that if there’s an old-timey candy on the market, they have it. Step back in time with Clark Bars, Whatchamacallit, PEZ, Slo-Poke, Licorice Crows, Circus Peanuts, Necco Wafers, and more. Locals can order the candy buffet for a nostalgic birthday party, wedding, or class reunion.
Candyality carries thousands of bulk sweets including gummies, sours, and taffy. They even have 21 different colors of M&M’s, 30 Jelly Belly flavors, and Chicago’s very first licorice bar. Satisfy your sweet tooth with a 5th Avenue bar, Big Cherry, Butterscotch Smoothies, Candy Necklaces, and Charleston Chews. Your inner child will thank you.
This store sells goodies dating all the way back to the ‘40s. We’re talking Bazooka Bubble Gum, Bit-O-Honey, Bubble Gum Cigars, Red Vines, and Sugar Babies. If you can’t choose just one, order one of Candy Crate’s retro gift boxes, which contain up to 150 different pieces.
This Jersey Shore shop is famous for having exceptionally creamy fudge, which is made with the same recipe created by the Douglass family in 1925. It’s also praised for its real saltwater taffy with high-quality natural flavorings. Some candy counter favorites found here include red and black licorice Scottie dogs, gummy frogs, chocolate sea shells, butter toffee, and unicorn pops.
At this New York City gem, you can find old-school favorite Pez dispensers of Snoopy, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Disney Princesses, Mickey Mouse, Smurfs, and more. In addition to timeless candies like Abba-Zabba, 100 Grand, and Turkish Taffy, Economy Candy sells vintage trading cards and temporary tattoos.
Fudge Kitchen is renowned for its fantastic whipped cream fudge. You can even watch the fudge-makers whip it! This confectioner offers samples, so don’t expect to leave without getting hooked on chocolate-covered saltwater taffy or amazing almond bark. Check out the “Irish potatoes“ — moist coconut and cream rolled by hand and dipped in fresh cinnamon.
This small-town candy store will transport you back to the 1950s. The décor is super fun — antique tin advertisements, a Coca-Cola cooler filled with glass soda bottles, and an old Admiral dial TV. Stop by for Oh Henry, Sugar Daddy, Sixlets, Wax Lips, Dubble Bubble, and Gummy Sharks — and bring something back for your grandma.
Grandpa Joe’s is no stranger to the spotlight. The Ohio hub (which has six locations around the state) has rows of colorful candies stocked from floor to ceiling. If you can’t find the childhood treat you’re looking for, staffers are all self-proclaimed candy experts, historians, and lovers who guarantee they’ll find it or die trying.
This popular New York City joint has candy and snow cones. Handsome Dan’s has all the old-school classics, and you can even shop by color. Take for example a jar of “Green Candy,” which features a handpicked selection of green Cry Babies, Gummy Flip Flops, Laffy Taffy, Sour Green Apple Belts, and Warheads. There are also red, white, pink, yellow, orange, black, and blue options.
Jaxon’s is an ice cream parlor and restaurant with an old-school candy shop in the front. You’ll feel lucky to discover hard-to-find classics including Charleston Chew, Pop Rocks, Whirly Pops, Necco Wafers, and Candy Buttons. The environment is ultra cool, too. Jaxon’s has the same stained-glass ceiling lamps that were likely hanging over your grandmother’s kitchen table.
Lolli and Pops/Yelp
Lolli and Pops is a super-cute gold and teal shop, a self-proclaimed “purveyor of sweetness.” Here, you’ll find chocolate and gummy bandages in addition to caramel-coated popcorn, cotton candy, and cutesy sugar-dusted gummy bears. You can also buy European sweets including Kinder Joy, Toblerone, and Aero Bubbles.
It’s all in the name. Old Fashioned Candies has an impressive selection of timeless classics including Black Cow, Laffy Taffy, Sixlets, Pez, Gold Rocks, Razzles, Valomilk, Candy Blox, and Fun Dip. This family-run shop features a vast amount of handmade chocolates and other goodies that are offered in bulk and by the piece.
You’ll get a blast from the past when you step foot into Retro Sweets, which is often referred to as “the Disneyland of candy stores.” Here, you’ll find a rainbow of M&M’s, tubs of cotton candy, Wax Fangs, and Rocky Road. There’s also a throwback toy section laden with hula hoops, Rubik’s cubes, jump ropes, Silly Putty, metal yo-yos, slinkies, and more.
Shane Confectionary has everything from fudge and fruit slices to saltwater taffy and nonpareils. The adorable vintage décor looks as if it hasn’t changed since the shop’s conception in 1863, and certain treats pay homage to history. Try the house-made Liberty Bell bonbon or Thomas Jefferson’s Nightcap — a jar of rich, European-style drinking chocolate.
Sweetie’s Candy of Arizona/Yelp
This Arizona shop is a 13,000 square-foot candy wonderland. Sweetie’s boasts endless aisles of colorful treats like Bazooka gum, Big League Chew, Bottle Caps, Baby Bottle Pops, Crunch, Gobstoppers, Mike and Ike, and Jelly Belly. Snap a picture with one of many M&M’s characters hanging about the building.
To the Moon sells over 13,000 different types of candies, and they claim to have every famous hard-to-find candy made from 1806 to now. The fun doesn’t stop at Fun Dip and Pixy Stix. There is also an old-school groceries section with Junket, My T Fine, Jiffy Pop, and Sanders Fudge; classic sodas such as SunDrop, Cheerwine, RC Cola, and Moxie; and collectible Betty Boop, Elvis, and Wizard of Oz memorabilia.
Williams Candy is as much of a Coney Island staple as Nathan’s Hot Dogs, and coincidentally, they’re right next-door to one another. The world-famous confectioner has been supplying the boardwalk and beyond with sweet treats for over 75 years now. The historic shop is known for its wide selection of candy-, caramel-, and chocolate-covered Granny Smith apples and for its candy-coated marshmallows topped with caramel, nuts, chocolate sprinkles, or toasted coconut. Anyone would likely enjoy these treats no matter their age, but we can’t say the same for the most peculiar food trend from the decade you were born.
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