Which do you love more on Valentine’s Day?
By Robin Cherry
Valentine’s Day is supposed to be all about romance, but I think it’s all about candy. As Lucy van Pelt said in Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz, “All I need is love, but a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.” If you agree, check out some of our favorite candy stores.
Joni Wheeler’s shop mixes vintage and modern design with a dash of whimsy and offers artisanal sweets from around the country and around the world. Sugar Sugar sells everything from childhood classics like peanut butter Smoothies (one of Wheeler’s favorites) to modern delicacies from Papabubble, a hip Barcelona confectioner specializing in hard candies. You’ll find chocolate paves (thin squares) from Cocoa San Francisco in exotic flavors like Brulee (blended with burnt sugar and sea salt) and Gold (enrobed in edible 24 Karat gold leaf), as well as Cacao Atlanta’s Love Bar with Ambrosial Spice Blend. If you’re into bright colors, you’ll find jarred candies priced by weight in practically every color of the rainbow (And you thought the palette of the Chevy Spark was wild!)
There are local treats including Sweet Jules caramels and honey bon-bons from Mademoiselle Miel, who gathers honey from rooftop apiaries and blends it with deep, black chocolate. Wheeler also offers a selection of vintage Valentines in case you want to re-send a card you remember from the second grade, like “Is Zoo my Valentine or is Zoo just monkeying around?” Chocolate rings with candy jewels are available, too, in case you’re more serious, but not too serious.
If your paramour is a policy wonk, Chocolate Chocolate is the place for you. Chocoholic sisters Frances and Ginger Park cast the Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln Memorials, the Capitol Dome and White House in milk, dark, and yes, white chocolate. The shop had a rocky start, and the sisters claim that early on, they sometimes ate more chocolate than they sold. But today, their creations are featured on The Food Network. They also feature organic chocolates from Lillie Belle Farms made by Chef Jeff, a hippie chocolate maker in Oregon, and Vermont’s Lake Champlain Chocolates, which artfully fuses Belgian chocolate with Vermont cream and butter. There’s also a cool “Nostalgia Collection” featuring old-fashioned classics like vanilla butter creams, cherry cordials and mint melties.
San Francisco, California
A little slice of Paris in Hayes Valley (and three other locations around the city), Miette is filled with vintage apothecary jars brimming with everything from Pixy Stix to the shop’s signature macarons in flavors ranging from chocolate and coffee to rose geranium and pistachio—the shop’s most popular. One of their specialties is a handmade vanilla marshmallow, a creamy, sugary pillow speckled with bits of vanilla bean that’s perfect in hot chocolate. While the quote “The coldest winter I ever spent was summer in San Francisco,” has been erroneously attributed to Mark Twain, somebody got it right, and there’s nothing better than hot chocolate by the bay on a cool summer night. Miette also imports sweet and salty licorice from Holland and dragées (sugared almonds) from Braquier in Verdun, France. Braquier has been making dragées for over 200 years and has supplied everyone from Napoleon to de Gaulle.
Economy Candy Store
New York, New York
Packed floor to ceiling (literally: you need a stepladder to reach the top shelves), this Lower East Side shop sells more than 5,000 kinds of candy, all at discount prices. The shop is brimming with retro favorites including Abba Zaba, Astro Pops, BB Bats, Bit O’Honey, Chuckles, Jawbreakers, Pixy Stix, Pop Rocks, Razzles, Root Beer Barrels and Turkish Taffy. (I could go on and on—and kind of did—but you get the idea). They also have luxurious hand-dipped chocolates and European imports including Cadbury, Nestle, Cote d’Or and Lindt. And if your Pez collection is lacking, Economy Candy Store’s offerings include everything from Betty Boop and Kiss to Iron Man and Miss Piggy.
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Robin Cherry is a Hudson Valley-based travel, food and pop culture writer whose work has appeared in The Atlantic, Afar, Islands and many other publications. She blogs at garlicescapes.com and is writing a book on the history of garlic that will be published in 2014. Follow her on Twitter @garlicescapes.