Global warming. A sluggish economy. Statewide drought. It's enough to make you hang your head and cry. There's only one thing sure to ease the pain: sweet, sweet candy. Two extraordinary candy stores recently opened within walking distance of each other. Visiting them will remind you of the best things in life like elegant parties, adventurous travel, and bittersweet nostalgia.
In the Americana at Brand, Sugarfina, a stylish, sleek boutique called the Tiffany's of candy stores opened a few weeks ago. Sugarfina's mission is to bring small batch candies made by artisan candy makers from all corners of the world to the sophisticated Southern California shopper (they have another store in Beverly Hills). The brainchild of co-owners and soon-to-be-married couple Rosie O'Neill and Josh Resnick, the clever marketing, packaging and colors (sky blues and cotton candy pinks) hearken back to O'Neill's days as marketing director for Barbie.
I did find it suspicious that, considering these come from small candy makers in far-flung places, many of the candies are similarly shaped with hues that fit the store look. Nonetheless, their confections are truly scrumptious. Take for instance the Aphrodite Kumquat from Corfu, the tiny tart fruit coated in smooth syrup candy and dark chocolate, or the Triple Chocolate Swirl Malt Balls with dark, white and milk chocolate. While the candies are tasty and unique, I see Sugarfina more like a specialty card store. Genuinely funny sentiments are printed on clear acrylic cubes filled with curated candies. For instance, in the Love Bites gift set, three cubes of gummy animals read "Plenty of Fish in the Sea," "Men are Pigs," and "Stop Kissing Frogs" ($25).
As you can imagine, this is no penny candy. But the packaging is so beautiful, the marketing so fresh, it's a great way to express your feelings to friends or colleagues. I mean, who doesn't like candy?
Sugarfina is not for filling bags of candy to eat by yourself in front of the Emmy Awards. For that, go to Lolli and Pops. The Glendale Galleria welcomed this Oklahoma-based "purveyor of sweetness" a few months ago and it's been buzzing ever since. Even here, the prices are steeper than at the corner drug store but the shopping experience is worth the extra dime. The store is large with one main room and five or six antechambers each dedicated to a place or time in the candy universe.
There's the vintage candy room with Atomic Fireballs and Mary Janes, the gummy room overseen by a huge gummy bear, the European candy room decorated with vintage travel paraphernalia, the Asian candy room, the dried fruits and nuts room, and my favorite, the world of chocolate room. (All room names are my own.) In here, bars of cocoa-based chemistry in artistic packaging are stacked like gold bullion. Cards with descriptions of their confectionary pedigree stand nearby. Above are books from Edwardian times. Steam Punk memorabilia crowd the shelves. Music similar to the soundtrack of those cool Cosmopolitan Las Vegas commercials moves you through the store. My teenage daughter likened the warm, wood-paneled shop to the inside of a vintage treasure chest.
Lolli and Pops recently completed an old-fashioned soda fountain right at the mall level which is also definitely worth a visit.
So when you're feeling down, take in some eye candy as well as actual candy at the Glendale malls.
Where: The Americana at Brand, 889 Americana Way, Glendale.
What: Lolli and Pops
Where: Glendale Galleria, 100 West Broadway, Glendale.
LISA DUPUY has written about area restaurants since 2008. Send her the name of your favorite diner at LDupuy@aol.com.