For many New York City kids, holidays like Easter (and Valentine's Day, and Halloween, and....) mean candy. And with New York City in the midst of a chocolate renaissance—Jacques Torres recently opened the city's first chocolate museum—it's a good time to be a kid.
But what of the classic candy store, where kids can enjoy filling a bag, or a Mason jar, before they begin filling their faces. Many of these NYC spots are stores without seating or bathrooms; places sticking true to shelves and aisles stuffed with packages of colorful, cavity-creating treasures. A few offer more modern treats and additions like chocolate-making classes for kids.
Chocolate Works – Upper East Side, Upper West Side & Brooklyn Heights
This national chain of stores with multiple NYC locations offers bins of candy, plus cases of chocolates and seasonal treats around the big holidays. It won't have the old-school feel of some of these more throwback NYC shops, but we're big fans of its classes and drop-in fun for kids, including the opportunity to make custom items.
Disco while you shop at Dylan’s Candy Bar’s Union Square location. Photo by the author.
Dylan's Candy Bar — Upper East Side, Union Square
1011 Third Avenue, at 60th Street
33 Union Square West
Like its flagship Upper East Side store, Dylan's newish Union Square location sells every kind of sweet imaginable. The selection is hard to beat, and many of the treats are imaginative. But you can lunch here, too: The Candy Cafe serves a selection of sundaes and frozen sweets. The Union Square location purports to be a "disco-inspired candy experience," which could be a bit too in-your-face for some kids. The candy selection is vast and entertaining, but some of the prices, while reasonable for Union Square, couldn't compete with a walk to nearby Handsome Dan's.
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Economy Candy on the Lower East Side might be the best candy store in New York City. Photo by inspire_me_design via Instagram.
Economy Candy — Lower East Side
108 Rivington Street
Possibly the best store of its kind in all five boroughs, Economy Candy has everything: homemade candy, mass-market popular, halvah and Turkish delights, and novelty candy from the dentally innocent 70s and 80s. According to staff, it recently added a section devoted to Asian candy, complementing established sections devoted to treats from Britain and Canada. Prepare for crowded aisles on nice weekend days, which could make visiting with a toddler, or a stroller tricky. Its 99-cent table might make it worth the risk.
Fill up a $10 mason jar with candy at Handsome Dan's.
Handsome Dan's — East Village, Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Manhattan, 186 First Avenue; Brooklyn: 218 Bedford Avenue (inside mini-mall)
On a visit to its East Village location, my 8-year-old daughter delighted in Handsome Dan's self-serve system of filling a $10 Mason jar (or bag for $5, bigger jar for $15) with anything in the store "without a bar code." The selection wasn't giant, but included some fun and wacky stuff, including chocolate-covered bacon, gummy chicken feet, and tennis-ball sour balls. The staff was friendly and talkative, and gave us free samples. Handsome Dan's also serves sno-cones and creates a "mash-up" cup of ice cream with your favorite candy.
IT'Sugar — Multiple Manhattan and Brooklyn locations
National chain IT'Sugar understands what kids want from a candy store: a place that's a little bit silly. Its six New York City locations stay cozy, space-wise, curated with a kooky selection of novelty candy, including TV-set sized Reese's, as well as candy-related games, clothing, and novelty items. During a recent visit to its South Street Seaport location, we noted prices on its smaller, bar-coded candy are comparably cheap.
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Sockerbit may be the IKEA of candy stores.
Sockerbit — West Village
89 Christopher Street, near Bleecker Street
With colorful candies displayed against a pristine white interior, this sleek Swedish candy store sports a minimalist, Ikea feel. The name means "sugar cube" in Swedish, and you'll find a smorgasbord of treats such as sour gummies, hard candies, licorice chocolates, nougat and marshmallows, all with names like fruktstång, gelehallon and huggormar. They're all yummier than they sound, with the possible exception of the creamed smoked roe bars.
It's hard to resist the chocolate confections, like this S'mores Bar, at The Sweet Life.
The Sweet Life — Lower East Side
63 Hester Street
A Chinatown/Lower East Side mainstay since the 1980s, The Sweet Life is swankier than Economy Candy and subscribes to the motto: "Anything can be dipped in chocolate." There are also licorice ropes, gummy bears, and other treats.
We Are Nuts About Nuts — Tribeca
166 Church Street
We Are Nuts About Nuts keeps the flame lit for that unique Tribeca of mom-and-pop specialty stores that has been all but snuffed out by chains and high-rises. It's nut-centric only in name—a small flight of stairs leads to a candy section as large as its nut selection. Take note of the strict rules before visiting: Staff roaming the store need to fill your bags and weigh your selections as you browse—don't touch the jars! But they couldn't be nicer to the kids, who get a kick out of ordering them around.
More Outer Borough Shops
Williams Candy Shop is one of the few old school Coney Island places left. Photo by Shira Kronzon.
Williams Candy — Coney Island, Brooklyn
1318 Surf Avenue
A must-try for your next Coney Island visit, kids can get a bite of possibly their first candied apple at Williams Candy. The old-school boardwalk shop serves up cotton candy, popcorn balls, marshmallow treats, lollipops, ice cream, and more candy items.
Aigner Chocolates — Forest Hills, Queens
103-02 Metropolitan Avenue
Made by hand since the 1930s, this family-run chocolate spot is a hit year-round, but especially for Easter treats, says one of our Queens bloggers. Buy by the pound, fancy chocolate boxes filled with items like Parisian Truffles and Buttercrunch, chocolate pops, or rotating seasonal treats including chocolate Easter bunnies.
Eddie's Sweet Shop — Forest Hills, Queens
105-29 Metropolitan Avenue
Although primarily loved for its over-the-top and decidedly old-school ice cream parlor, which opened in the 1960s, this Queens creamery also offers a long case full of and topped with both wrapped and bulk candies from which kids can choose.
The Chocolate Place — Morris Park, the Bronx
839 Morris Park Avenue
This beloved local spot offers homemade truffles, chocolate-covered strawberries, Oreos, and pretzels, DIY supplies to create your own treats, and even party favors and cakes. You won't find penny candy here, but kids will still go gaga over the glass case displays.
Egger's Ice Cream Parlor — Staten Island
1194 Forest Avenue
Another beloved ice cream parlor that scoops up plenty of candy for the kids, too: Choose from among dozens of varieties of wrapped and loose candies neatly displayed in jars, including retro favorites like Lemonheads and licorice to gummi worms and Mary Janes. There are also plenty of chocolate treats, including truffles and bonbons, and chocolate covered pretzels.
Top photo: Dylan's UES location. Unless otherwise noted, photos courtesy of the stores.