If you’ve got a sweet tooth, you probably don’t need much of an excuse to go stock up on all the major candy food groups: candy corn (veggies), gummies (fruit,) nostalgic chocolate (dairy), chocolate with nuts (protein), and marshmallow-y things (oxygen). New York City’s best candy shops offer those options and more, from candy-encased alcohol to Oreo-filled chocolate brains. Tell yourself you’re buying these things for the kids, or the office, if you must. We won’t tell anyone that you plan to wolf all that candy down yourself. Here are the 10 best candy shops in NYC.
10. Li-Lac Chocolates, (40 Eighth Avenue; 212-924-2280) This chocolatier turns out chocolate-covered grahams and s’mores that’ll make just about any child-at-heart salivate. The shop’s tagline is “stubbornly old-fashioned since 1923,” so look for vintage treats like caramel apples coated in white chocolate, dark chocolate, and nonpareils. For Halloween, Li-Lac sells a pear-sized chocolate skull, solid chocolate mummies in coffins, and Death Pops, which recall Edvard Munch’s The Scream, but with creepier teeth.
9. H Mart, (25 West 32nd Street; 212-695-3283) This Korean grocery store gets jammed with people loading up on a week’s worth of groceries, but to hell with the kimchi. Among the flavor-straddling selection of sweet and sour candies, choose the pumpkin candy, lip-puckering sour Super Soda candy, and the Milkita candies, hard suckers that turn into delectably creamy, chewy coins.
8. Sugarfly Alley (320 Franklin Avenue, Brooklyn; 347-985-3321) Sugarfly owner Stacy Desmond wanted to bring a candy store to Bed-Stuy because she felt the neighborhood was overrun with taco joints and hipster coffee shops. “It’s a good old candy rush,” she says. “I have the older people outside the store dancing because it’s nostalgic for them.” Come Halloween, the glassware on the lime-green shelves inside this narrow space gets loaded with vampire teeth and mustache lollipops. Get yourself hooked on the gummy body parts, which include a set of glowing fangs, a black foot, and green fingers that taste like Swedish Fish. Or try the brain: two Oreos covered in white chocolate and dyed with natural food coloring to make them the suspicious orange color of Cheetos.
7. Vosges, (132 Spring Street, 212-625-2929) This plush haut chocolate bar wrings sinful flavors from its top-quality 72 percent cacao dark chocolate with spice. In the fall, skip the delicate truffles and opt instead for the Guajillo & Chipotle Chili Super Dark Day of the Dead Chocolate Skull. Consider the name a warning: This chocolate is darker than dark with a faint slow-burning heat.
6. The Sweet Life, (63 Hester Street; 212-598-0092) Opened in 1982, this by-the-book old-fashioned candy shop doles out penny candy from apothecary jars. The fact that the chocolate is made on premises adds to the charm, and makes for some odd flavors: One of the paperweight-thick milk chocolate bars gets studded with Pop Rocks. The addictive chocolate-covered marshmallow lollipops and pumpkin pops are the real draw, but the Sweet Life also has Crayola gumballs that actually color your mouth. And there are spades of gummies: fried eggs, for instance, and chicken feet. Don’t miss the organic Aztec chocolate bars, located in the dignified upscale chocolate corner.
5. Papabubble, (380 Broome Street, 212-966-2599) Soulcycle cult members and cleanse enthusiasts will appreciate the healthy-ish varieties of candy here, which are incentive enough to try clean eating for a day. Sweets are gluten-free, nut-free, and kosher, and no corn syrup or gelatin touches anything. During Halloween season, look for the artisan pillow candy: Candy artists sculpt the sweets into rods and decorate them with ghosts, jack-o’-lanterns, and “Trick-Or-Treat”; the shop sells them by the multi-pack. And if you’re a candy corn fan, you should try the monos, hard-candy versions of candy corn that taste like Creamsicles. They come in a flask or a test tube.
4. Dewey’s Candy, (141 Front Street, Brooklyn; 718-422-1333) At this shop, the gummy is worthy of worship. Expect gummy skulls and sunny-side-up eggs, plus gummy spiders, alligators, and garden snakes. Dive into the wax fangs, red licorice, and crunchy chocolate eyeballs (like Crunch, but higher quality). Dewey is owner Alison Oblonsky’s nickname, bestowed upon her by her dad. She hasn’t touched candy in two years because she was skipping lunch for licorice. “I just can’t break the seal,” she says. It’s the staff and her customers that test out the candies, so you’ll have to help her out.
3. Sugar Shop, (254 Baltic Street, Brooklyn; 718-576-3591) Located within egg-throwing distance of movie-material brownstones, Sugar Shop is family-oriented, with quintessential candies like Big League Chew, Pumpkin Patch Orange Pop Rocks, and, the store’s favorite, salt water taffy, which comes in candy corn and pumpkin pie flavors. You may recall this is the place where Girls‘ Hannah Horvath met her editor before he dropped dead. “Everyone comes in and mentions the Girls scene,” says co-owner Jennifer Bischoff. “They all want to buy the chocolate cups. Unfortunately, I can’t take credit for that! That was invented by the Girls team themselves.” Sugar Shop also sells party favors in brightly colored goody bags; they’re filled with Ring Pops, a candy necklace, pumpkin Pop Rocks, and black plastic spider rings.
2. Slodycze Wedel, (772 Manhattan Avenue, Brooklyn; 718-349-3933) It’s not that small children don’t matter to this store, it’s that the liquor-filled candies just matter more. For a grown-up party, fill a bag with wrapped morsels with liquor centers. The relentlessly indulgent candies are pumped full of brandy, rum, cherry liquor, and Advocaat, a Dutch liquor that tastes like eggnog. You’ll find the walls piled high with reasonably priced gift boxes. These shiny cases retail for around $10, so they’ll make you look more generous than you really are. Not everything here contains alcohol, and the Polish staff will translate the labels for you. Try the sublime party mix that combines milk chocolate, white chocolate, cookies, nuts, and wafers. Be on the lookout for the owners’ cat, Drops (named after candy), and Polish women with actual liquor in highball glasses if you roll in near closing time.
1. Economy Candy (108 Rivington Street; 212-254-1531) Slinging sourballs since the 1930s, this longtime favorite preserves, in sugary microcosm, the Lower East Side of the old days. It’s packed to the gills with novelty candy, the tough-to-score retro stuff, and a solid array of halva. Hunting for sweets here feels frenzied no matter how slow the shop is, because everything is so well stocked you get the sense that an avalanche of candy buttons could take you out at any moment. Pack your own old-fashioned bags full of loose candies like Bit-O-Honey, which are $2.99 per pound. The hefty Halloween selection includes Alien Ice Cream, Pac-Man Ghost Sours, and gummy pet rats.