If Mark McLaughlin needs a reminder of his time in the television production industry, he only needs to look a few feet to the entertainment-themed signs that decorate the walls of his new Laguna Beach store.
McLaughlin made the jump from film to candy when he opened the Rocket Fizz Soda Pop and Candy Shop's latest location, at 243 Broadway St. — a spot formerly occupied by a hair salon and day spa. The franchise business boasts more than 500 flavored sodas, candies and other goodies.
The 51-year-old Laguna Beach resident and his father, Earl, opened Rocket Fizz Under the Sea three weeks ago in a space within walking distance of Main Beach. The "Under the Sea" part is an ode to Laguna, since each store attempts to align with the surrounding community.
Business has been steady so far, McLaughlin said Tuesday after he helped a mother with two children pick from an inventory that features nostalgic treats such as Charleston Chew, PEZ and Zotz, a type of fizzy, sour candy.
"I was sucked back into my childhood when I started eating [Zotz]," McLaughlin said.
McLaughlin grew up in Colorado and then moved to Los Angeles, where he worked in the production industry.
He spent a couple months on the North Pole in 2001 filming an episode of "Surviving Mars" for the Discovery Channel.
McLaughlin also produced a retrospective on the history of Hollywood musicals for PBS and a documentary about Superman for Warner Bros.
"I did production for almost 30 years," McLaughlin said. "It was exciting, working on documentaries and traveling. It was time to settle down. When I thought about where I wanted to settle, Laguna Beach was at the top of the list."
Taffy fans can rejoice in the fact that he brought the shop to Laguna; a whole wall is dedicated to myriad flavors from chili-mango and cherry cola to buttered popcorn and maple bacon.
McLaughlin urges customers to pack bags full of the stuff, which is sold in bulk.
The store also sells posters of music legends such as Bob Marley and Lynyrd Skynyrd and movies like "Goodfellas" and "Pulp Fiction."
Of the sodas, an alcohol-free Australian ginger beer called Bundaberg has been the top seller, McLaughlin said.
Soda bottles rest on knee-high shelves, perfect to catch a child's eye.
The lower shelf heights also guard against bottle breakage, McLaughlin said.
Sodas are made with cane sugar, but McLaughlin also offers sugar-free drinks and candies.
Rocket Fizz co-founders Ryan Morgan and Robert Powells started the company with their flagship location in Camarillo, and they have stores, all independently owned and operated, in Arizona and Colorado, according to the company's website.
Rocket Fizz Under the Sea
Location: 243 Broadway St.
Hours: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week
Items for sale: More than 500 types of flavored sodas; candies, including taffy in flavors such as chili-lime, buttered popcorn and apple pie; vintage musician posters.
Owners: Mark and Earl McLaughlin