Thursday, June 3, 2010

Sugar Sugar

Sugar Sugar

Open just six months, the Sugar Sugar candy store already has the lived-in, well-loved charm of a good vintage boutique. The paneled walls are decorated with retro sweets labels and ads, and eye-catching candies do double duty as bouquets (pixy stix, below left), sculptures (lollipops, above) and light fixtures (rock candy, below right).

The backbone of the small space is a stretch of wall shelves lined with glass apothecary jars containing treats for sale by the pound--licorice, gummies, drops, and the like.  The bulk orange slices ($1.75/lb) were the first candy that owner Joni Wheeler bought for the store; to Wheeler, those orange slices were, "what it meant to have a candy store."

In choosing the rest of her range, Wheeler kept in mind that "candy" means different things to different people--often according to when and where you were raised.  Reading Candyfreak, sweet-toothed writer Steve Almond's account of his search for America's endangered historic candies, convinced Wheeler that regional and nostalgia treats needed to be part of the line-up. 

Luckily for Wheeler, penny-candy titan Farley Sathers is a local company, as are chocolatier BT McElrath and prodigy chocolate maker Colin Gasko of Rogue Chocolate.  Other sweets come from much farther afield.  Rogue's artisanal bars share shelves with imports such as Chuckles, Abba-zabba, Big Hunk, and Rocky Road.  While I was in the store, one customer mock-grumbled that since Sugar Sugar opened he could no longer look forward to business trips as an opportunity to stock up on regional delicacies.  

Sugar Sugar caters to a wide range of budgets and tastes, satisfying kids with a dime for the gumball machine as well as adults splashing out on nostalgia by the pound.  During my short visit there was a steady stream of customers of all ages, and the next day Sugar Sugar was featured in a USA Today article on candy stores around the country. 
3803 Grand Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN