Handschuh, David, New York Daily News
Rachel Barash is overwhelmed by the choices at Economy Candy.
So what if it rots our teeth and makes us fat — candy also makes us happy.
And unlike anything else on the shelves, the beauty of candy is that it’s actually honest.
“It says what it is,” writes Samira Kawash in her new book “Candy: A Century of Panic and Pleasure,” an adamant defense of all things sweet.
Candy was first mass-produced in England in the 1850s, but by 1908 New York City had emerged as a candymaking capital, with Brooklyn leading the charge, according to the book. The borough produced 130 million pounds of candy and chocolate that year and shipped it to every state. Those lucky enough to call themselves Brooklynites back then could peruse the jars at 560 different candy stores.
Sadly, many sugar shacks in Brooklyn — and the city as a whole — have given way to more contemporary pleasures: coffee and juice, to name a couple.
But the city’s candy stash isn’t entirely exhausted. A handful of old-fashioned sweet shops remain, giving sugar fiends something to chew on.
108 Rivington St.
Handschuh, David, New York Daily News
Economy Candy at 108 Rivington St. sells all the candy you remember as a kid.
Six months ago, Mitch Cohen was suiting up on Wall Street as an investment banker. Now, he wears a bright-orange “Economy Candy” T-shirt to work.
“I always felt that I’d wind up here at some point — I just didn’t know when,” says the moneyman-turned-candyman, who inherited a shop passed through three generations since 1937.
Adjusting from big business to the sweets business hasn’t been much of a struggle for Cohen.
“I grew up in the store,” he says. “Every Sunday my entire life, every holiday vacation was spent in the store helping out.”
Who better to handle inventory and sales of giant Pez dispensers, Astro Pops, Bonomo’s Turkish Taffy, and Sky Bars?
“If we don’t have it, they don’t make it anymore,” he says. “And if they do, we’ll find it.”
It’s a low-margin business — but he has his sales goals.
“We want you to walk out with a big bag of candy for 10 or 20 dollars.”
Rainbow colored Whirly Pops at Williams Candy in Brooklyn
“A dollar’s worth of candy makes you happy,” he says.
WILLIAMS CANDY SHOP
1318 Surf Ave., Brooklyn
Peter Agrapides Jr. has been around candy his whole life — and he has the wounds to prove it.
“Candy burns are the worst,” says the 43-year-old as he reveals a scarred thumb from making candy apples as a teen. “I’d rather get burned by grease than candy burns. Because what happens is, it sticks to you, then hardens up.”
Agrapides was 12 when he started at his family’s Coney Island shop. It’s been open since 1936, and his family took over in 1982. But all that history was almost washed away in Hurricane Sandy.
It took six months to reopen, but now the store is back to year-round operation, lining its windows with top-sellers including marshmallow treats — three jumbo marshmallows impaled on a stick and dipped in caramel, then topped with toasted coconut.
Just in time for Halloween, an ominous display at Williams Candy on 1318 Surf Ave. in Brooklyn
And it’s not just tots who love the shop — Agrapides says grown-ups devour 75% of his sweets.
“The adults are worse than the kids,” he says.
But it’s his shiny candy apples that attract sweet-tooths from the Big Apple and beyond.
“We have the best candy apples. Tourists come all the time and they say they don’t find candy apples like this in their state.”
8 Barrett Ave., Staten Island
John Dorman has been tirelessly peddling sweets for 66 years.
The 83-year-old candyman began working for the original owner of Philip’s Candy when it was located in Coney Island. He went from shop boy to owner and moved the store, which opened in 1930, to Staten Island in 2002.
Peter Agrapides Jr. with his shop’s killer candy apples at Williams Candy at 1318 Surf Ave. in Brooklyn
“My dad’s been working here since he was 17 years old,” Dorman’s daughter Maria says. “He still works seven days a week, 12 hours a day.”
The man behind the counter isn’t the only part of the shop that hasn’t changed for decades. The goods are made by hand, egg creams still sell for 75 cents and the prices harken back to an era when a nickel meant something.
Maria now makes the shop’s marzipan, fudge and hand-dipped chocolate for fruit, peanut brittle and cashew balls. And she still has a sweet tooth despite growing up around confections.
“He loves it,” says Maria of her pop. “This is everything to him.”
140 W. 55th St.
Attention novices: There’s more to licorice than Twizzlers.
Just stop by Myzel’s, where Polish emigre Kamila Myzel lines up the surprisingly flavorful chewies in jars stacked to the ceiling.
Colorful, sweets-stuffed interior of Williams Candy in Brooklyn
“We have over a hundred different licorices — at this moment 120,” she says. “I try to get it from all over the world.”
Turns out, licorice is a bit of a miracle candy. Opera singers buy it because it’s soothing on the vocal cords, Myzel says. Others stock up because it can do the impossible: taste like candy while suppressing appetite.
But a licorice diet won’t do much good for patrons who see Myzel’s selection of baked goods.
Top sellers? Well, there’s the licorice…
“And of course my cookies,” she adds proudly. “I bake all the cookies we have in the shop.”
Myzel’s also has some 325 jars of candy stuffed with gummy skulls, gummy brains, and gummy teeth, special for Halloween. Plus the house-made chocolate.
“You don’t find this type of shop anymore. I’m an old-fashioned person and I like to keep this store in a really old way.”
Kamila Myzel, one of the owners at Myzel’s Candy Store on W. 55th St., amid some of the store’s Halloween goodies.
Everyone’s got a favorite candy — even the city’s candy stores. These niche sellers specialize in certain goodies, luring picky sweet-tooths out to satisfy a craving.
318 E. Ninth St.
A store that sells exclusively rain gear and candy? What better way to turn around a dreary day?
Sweet Gifts/Video Cafe
697 Ninth Ave.
Buy candy from bins and stock up on DVDs at this sweets and cinema shop in Hell’s Kitchen.
Myzel’s Candy Store on W. 55th St. is getting stocked up with Halloween candy, in addition to its usual supply of incredible licorice and chocolate confections.
London Candy Company
267 Bleecker St.
This Village shop specializes in British candy, like Rowntree’s wine gums, Crunchie and Yorkie bars, and all things Cadbury.
89 Christopher St.
Dedicated completely to Swedish sweets, it’s proof there’s more than just Swedish Fish in the sea.
380 Broome St.
Scoop up hard candies, lollipops, and candy rings in wacky shapes like dentures, saber-tooth tigers and mallards.