Candy. Think back to the days when it seemed as if you could buy the whole candy store for a dollar.
Maybe kids always think that. Recently on Michigan Avenue in Chicago, I overheard a conversation between kids and their dad, who let them roam wild in Dylan's Candy Bar with $5 each in their hands, but they couldn't go over the $5 budget. The kids thought they'd tricked their dad, but the real joke was on them — unless they were smart enough to put their earnings together, making it $15. I didn't stay to find out.
The scene stayed in my head the rest of the day. How much candy could I get for only $5? I hit a number of Chicago-area candy stores to find out and to rank them from worst bargain to best. (Each photo shows what I scored for 5 bucks.)
If Charlie Bucket turned the chocolate factory into a chocolatorium (industry term), it would be modeled after Kilwin's. Those who go to the decadent-but-pricey Hyde Park branch of the chocolate store can find something to their liking. Fudge and chocolates range from $2 to $32, so the decision on whether to spend the whole $5 on a chocolate Twinkie ($4.95) versus buying two treats — a chocolate Oreo ($2) and a chocolate covered sprinkle rod ($2) — was incredibly difficult. In the end, I chose quantity over quality, but I will be back for that Twinkie one day. 5246 S. Harper Ave., Chicago, IL.
Dylan's Candy Bar
When you enter Dylan's, brace yourself not only for the chaotic modern Candyland, but also for the prices. Ralph Lauren's daughter, Dylan, created a high-end candy store filled with everything from bulk gummies and chocolate stations to ice cream, fudge and nostalgia candy stations. A half-pound of bulk candy is $7.99. However, there are many single treats available for under $5, such as a Rainbow Whirley pop ($3.75), personalized candy bars ($2.50), a block of Dylan's fudge ($4) and Nik-L-Nip mini wax drinks ($3). If you carefully fill up a small plastic bag (with chocolate pretzels, cola-flavored gummy bottles and paper dots), it will cost about $2.20. If you're looking for quantity and only have a fiver, skip this store. 445 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL.