Candy corn, candy canes, chocolate eggs, and heart-shaped boxes of chocolate. So many candies are celebrated just once a year, and only on designated holidays. But visit one of Portland's candy stores, and every day is a holiday.
Whether you're in need of a pack of M&Ms, or you're searching for something your grandmother would've eaten, chances are, one of Portland's candy peddlers will have it. So when you're craving something sweet, explore these five local candy shops and find just what you're looking for. Happy hunting. And don't forget to brush your teeth before bed.
King, Alberta Street
Amani Greer got her start spinning clouds of cotton candy for students at school fundraisers. It was a hit, so she decided to open a candy shop, offering what she calls "ethical candy”—in other words, sweets made with natural ingredients and no genetically modified organisms (GMOs). In fact, she thinks of her store as more of a "naturopathic candy shop"—a line of herbal cold and flu season lollipops are in the works—with sweets that will leave you "feeling good, inside and out." For instance, can't have sugar? Greer recommends you try a West African Miracle Berry, which "plays tricks on your tongue," she says, turning bitter foods sweet. Suck on a lemon, and you'll taste lemon ice cream, Greer says. Drink a bitter beer, and it'll be like drinking chocolate milk. Of course, you can also have her spin you some kosher cotton candy—your only dilemma will be choosing which one of her 250 flavors you crave most.
Candy Babel, 1237 NE Alberta St., 503.867.0591
Tricia Leahy isn't putting the kibosh on the candy shop she's owned for the last 10 years. Instead, she's rebranding it as Hattie's Sweet Shop, a tribute to her grandmother, Hattie, who moved from Oklahoma and settled in Oregon back in 1914. Every neighborhood, Leahy says, needs a candy shop, so her aspiration is to open a Hattie's in every Portland neighborhood, and she’ll begin her conquest with the opening of a second Hattie’s in Cully on Thursday, Nov. 8. In the meantime, you can visit the store that started it all to stock up on taffy, rock candy, 30 flavors of candy sticks, as many as 50 varieties of black licorice, and an assortment of nostalgic and modern confectionary delights, as well as some of Leahy's specialty handmade fudge.
Sweets Etc., 7828 SW Capitol Highway, 503.293.0088
Hattie's Sweet Shop, 4815 NE Fremont St., 503.816.1380—The Cully location will officially celebrate its a grand opening on Thursday, Nov. 8 from 6 to 9 p.m.
Cosmic Soda Pop Candy Shop
Sarah and Shawn Leonard's candy shop (formerly known as Fizz) offers more than just candy: It’s stocked with nearly 300 flavors of soda and even has a soda fountain where soda jerks will whip up a variety of egg creams, phosphates and milkshakes for you. As for candy, you can go with the familiar (gummy bears, Smarties, Mallo Cups), steer yourself toward U.K. and Canadian imports, or take home some baby boomer favorites (Abba-Zabas, Dots, Goo Goo Clusters). But, Sarah Leonard says, Cosmic offers something a lot of places don't, which is an invitation to take any of the store's pre-packaged or bulk candies and have your soda jerk jazz up your order by mixing them into your custom-made milkshake.
Cosmic Soda Pop Candy Shop, 817 SE 34th Ave., 503.894.8980
Portland just wouldn't be Portland without a mobile candy shop. That's where Elle McKernan comes in. When she's not baking pastries and cookies for three local businesses, you can find her, Fridays through Sundays, in her decked-out school bus, where she sells a variety of sweets both everyday (Abba-Zabas, gummy bears) and exotic, with a rotating selection of candies imported from Mexico, Bosnia, Serbia, Russia and India. Have a party planned? Not only will she drive her bus to your children's birthday bash, beer crawl or art show, she'll also handcraft thematic confections that capture the spirit of your soirée. And sometimes, she says, she even throws her own parties, just for the fun of it. (She recently threw a Harry Potter-themed affair where visitors gobbled up her handmade chocolate frogs and owls.)
Chalk-Let Bus, 3267 SE Hawthorne Blvd., 503.539.2253
The Freakybuttrue Peculiarium and Museum
Northwest District, Slabtown
If you've yet to visit this off-the-beaten-path museum of oddities, you might be wondering what exactly is the Peculiarium? Well, what isn't it? It's home to an alien autopsy exhibit, a 10-foot Bigfoot, a working theremin, and an ice cream bar where you can get sundaes topped with freeze-dried mealworms and stingerless scorpions. And if you're looking for fun, gag candy, you'll not be disappointed—the Peculiarium carries everything from Pop Rocks to candied blood to something called "Genuine Aeromatic Granules of Unicorn," or, more simply, sugar. There’s even tequila-flavored candies (that include the worm) for grown-ups and candy cigarettes for the kids. And if you think eating chocolate-covered insects sounds like a walk in park (because those are sold at the Peculiarium as well), then you can challenge yourself by picking up a pack of Blazin Novas, which look like lemon drops but taste a little spicier—they've been dusted with ghost chili powder.
The Freakybuttrue Peculiarium and Museum, 2234 NW Thurman St., 503.227.3164