Dallas-Fort Worth area candy stores have found success in the vintage candy department, where you can peruse the shelves for treats that rekindle fond memories.
“We’re a feel-good place,” says Tim Loyd, owner of Atomic Candy on the south side of Denton’s Square. The store is about seven months old but looks as though it’s been there for a century, as old as the building itself, with high ceilings and hardwood floors, repurposed antiques and rusty signs on the walls.
All ages frequent the place, including high school and university students. Here, you can find gumballs and Jelly Belly gourmet jelly beans in a multitude of flavors, a wide assortment of bulk candy and soda pop, and lots of novelty items.
“We like the unusual, nostalgic and weird,” Loyd says.
“Memories start churning when people see all the candy,” says Nicole Meadows, an owner of Blooms Candy and Soda Pop Shop on the square in old downtown Carrollton.
Blooms began as a flower shop that carried some vintage candy and gifts. It quickly caught on, prompting owners John and Nicole Meadows and Sid Iraheta to branch into separate stores. Blooms is small, but the inventory is extensive, with more than 900 items and 210 kinds of soda pop.
The retro displays are for sale and, for the right price, you can take home giant foam numbers and the BJ and the Rockets drum set from the Barney television studio. “We’re fun, weird and wacky,” says Nicole Meadows. “The store reflects us.”
There’s a wholesome, all-American feel when you walk through the door of McKinney’s Mom and Popcorn Co., owned by Kimberly Loyd. The shop sells more than 50 varieties of popcorn and fudge made in house as well as nostalgic candy.
“We’re more old-fashioned,” says Brandee Cotton, Loyd’s daughter and the store manager.
Liquid candy: fizzy finds
“Soda pop is a new market for candy stores,” says Atomic Candy’s Tim Loyd. “Glass-bottle sodas are making a comeback.”
Atomic Candy and Blooms carry assortments of sodas, including sarsaparillas, cream sodas and root beers; regional sodas such as Faygo and Vernors from Detroit and Spruce Beer made in Bristol, R.I.; and nostalgic sodas. Atomic Candy sells Armadillo Ale Works’ lemonade soda pop and ginger cream ale, brewed across the Square.
Food-flavor drinks spark curiosity with flavors such as Peanut Butter and Jelly, Barbecue and Sweet Corn. But by far the biggest seller is the Bacon Soda. “This soda is unforgettable,” says Nicole Meadows of Blooms. “After you open the cap, you immediately get the odor of bacon grease. Once you are brave enough to sip it, you are greeted with an odd sensation and a lingering bacon aftertaste. There are legitimate fans of this soda, and they are truly bacon-obsessed.”
Mustache-themed merchandise is all the rage, Loyd says. “All the hipsters want a mustache with the ends twisted up in a curl.” Fake mustaches come in packages of seven styles for every day of the week. “Just stick one on. We also have pink ones for girls,” he says.
“Trust me, there is nothing funnier than having a 6-year-old girl come up to the register to buy a 5-cent Pixy Stix, with a tiny — I’m talking ridiculously small — handlebar mustache above her lip, acting as if nothing could be more normal,” he says.
Speaking of bacon …
In addition to bacon sodas, bacon-flavor items that fly off shelves include gummy bacon, bacon jelly beans, bacon candy and an assortment of bacon gifts, such as the bacon wallet.
Other hot items at these stores are toilet-themed items and gross candy, such as Candy Urine and Formula Pee. “Both are not actually pee but a very sour, oozy, lemon candy. Gross candy is shocking in appearance, but it’s still candy and tastes great!” Loyd says.
— Ellen Ritscher Sackett
At the candy stores’ bulk bins, individually wrapped candies, saltwater taffy, gumballs and jelly beans come in a multitude of flavors and can be purchased by the piece or by the bag.
Saltwater taffy is not actually made with ocean water, despite its origins in Atlantic City, N.J., in the late 19th century, although it does contain both salt and water. The taffy at Mom and Popcorn and Atomic Candy comes fresh-to-order from Salt Lake City.
The shimmer gumballs are popular as wedding favors and baby showers, says Atomic Candy manager Alli Chesser.
Nostalgic candy never goes out of style, but it can get discontinued. Some brands are brought back into circulation, often with retro packaging, which heightens sales, Chesser says.
Whenever possible, the candy is labeled by its original release. Bit-O-Honey was released in 1924, four years before Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups were introduced. The Atomic Fireball was released in 1954, and Starburst (originally called Opal Fruits) hit the scene in 1960.
The origins of the Tootsie Roll go back to 1896, when Leo Hirshfield opened a candy store in New York City. They sold for a penny each and were named after his daughter, whom he called Tootsie.
Bad breath freshener
Sen-Sen has been around since the turn of the 20th century. The tiny brown squares are so powerful, Atomic Candy owner Tim Loyd says, “It’s like getting a shot of perfume and licorice in your mouth. I have been told it’s great to cover up the smell of cigarettes and alcohol.”
Chew on this
Gum brands with longevity include Dubble Bubble, which was released in 1928, and Bazooka, first manufactured by Topps in the late 1940s.
Big League Chew Bubble Gum, circa 1980, was invented by two major-league baseball players, Jim Bouton and Rob Nelson, who were disappointed by the increasing use of chewing tobacco by young players, says Brandee Cotton, of Mom and Popcorn.
Astro Pop returns
“People come in all the time asking for something they remember from their past,” Blooms’ Sid Iraheta says. One anticipated return was the Astro Pop, modeled after a three-stage rocket.
Cherry Mash, which has been around since 1918, was once the best-selling candy bar in the country. “I sell a lot of the Clark Bar, the Oh Henry! bar,” says Mom and Popcorn’s Kimberly Loyd, “and especially the Curly Wurly, which was originally called the Marathon Bar. It’s the same thing, but the name changed when Cadbury purchased it. Chuckles is popular, too.”
— Ellen Ritscher Sackett
IF YOU GO
Atomic Candy: 105 W. Hickory St., Denton; 940-383-3780; atomic-candy.com
Blooms Candy and Soda Pop Shop: 1104 W. Main St., Carrollton; 972-416-5230; candycarrollton.com
The Mom and Popcorn Co.: 215 E. Louisiana St., McKinney; 972-542-7605 and 1-888-542-7605; momandpopcorn.com
If you’re in the mood for a MoonPie or a Mallo Cup, the gift shops at Cracker Barrel Old Country Stores are a good place to get them and other nostalgic finds.
Froggie’s 5&10 on Knox Street in Dallas, primarily known for its toys, games and children’s educational products, carries some vintage candy, too. It’s a great place to pick up Pez candy dispensers, among the store’s best-sellers.