Candy nostalgia reigns supreme in the Lower East Side’s Economy Candy store. This circa-1937 Lower East Side staple is filled from floor to ceiling with retro and international confections, including innumerable brands you never knew were still in production, or even existed from the get-go. Remember wanting to ‘smoke’ candy cigarettes at the corner drugstore like the big kids? Want a piece of Big League Chew after Sunday’s pick-up game? Imagine a rainbow colored array of chocolates, candy button, lollipops, taffies, collectible Pez dispensers, rock candies, gum-balls and every treat that’s meant to upset your dentist. New York Magazine’s review writes, “Rivington Street’s Economy Candy is pure over-the-top New York, a font of variety and abundance that would leave Willy Wonka weeping in his cocoa.”
That’s me, Keren, posing like Economy Candy’s mascot, below! See the resemblance?
Zagnut bar? Here. Charleston Chews? You bet baby! You want thingamabobs? They’ve got twenty…It is literally impossible to feel depressed in this sucrose, dextrose neon colored dream. In usual NYC fashion, the store is three times smaller than it should be, almost like a Hoarders episode meets an encyclopedic, library-esque sweets store. The space can feel cramped pretty quickly, and lines of by-the-pound shoppers can get daunting during (sugar) rush hour but, don’t let that dismay you!
Fox’s U-bet Chocolate & Flavored Syrups are an original, Brooklyn-bred treat from the era of the soda jerk! Created in 1895, this liquid is rumored to be the only way to make a perfect New York Chocolate Egg Cream.
I will let Economy Candy explain the history of this institution, straight from the horse’s mouth, “Since 1937, on the Lower East Side Economy Candy is an old-fashioned, family-owned candy store that sells hundreds of kinds of chocolates, candies, nuts, dried fruits; including halvah, sugar free candy and of course all the old time candy you had when you were a kid.
When Jerry Cohen’s father opened Economy Candy in 1937, it was a typical corner candy store of its day. Bulk bins full of colorful hard candies enticed youngsters with their panorama of choices. Guys could buy their dolls a heart-shaped box of chocolates when they had trouble expressing themselves in words. Barrels in the back yielded a geography lesson of nuts from around the world. The hard times of the Depression were easing up, the grim specter of war-to-come wasn’t yet hovering over American shores, and television was a scientific marvel that was unlikely to have any practical commercial application.
Years later, the Dow Jones is soaring to previously unimagined heights, military actions are measured in days, and computer-literate three-year-olds are unnervingly common. And the former youngsters of 1937 still visit Economy Candy for a scoop of goodies, a bag of pistachios, or a slice of halvah like you can’t get anywhere else. And their children and their children’s children shop there, too. This old-fashioned candy store offers SOLID DISCOUNTS on everything from sour balls to upscale chocolates.”
My coffee cup is resting precariously on Old Fashioned Candy Sticks and Candy Canes so I could get this shot of the M&M wall. The confectionary utopia has common candies as well (and sometimes ever color coded), however its strength lies in the products of yore! The whole space reads like a Pop Art painting.
My friend, Jeffrey J., exploring the endless possibilities in this parlor of sweets.
Feel like a “Kid in a candy store”, yet? If buying in bulk is not your forte, trying living with these pastel, saccharine soaked products: