Candyfreak - where to find obscure candy bars?
- Alexandra Aug 3, 2004 02:07 PM
I just got done reading Candyfreak by Steve Almond (which you can purchase at Amazon.com through the link at www.chowhound.com/main.html, and in so doing give a donation to chowhound). It's a great, funny, poignant book, and it's saddled me with an unrelenting obsession centered around obscure candy bars.
My question is, where can I find such regional rarities as the Clark Bar, the Valomilk, the Twin Bing, and the Idaho Spud? Will I have to order them? Or is there a store in the Bay Area that stocks this kind of stuff?
I got to try Look bar yesterday, made by the Annabelle Candy Co. of Hayward (makers of the Abba-Zabba and the Rocky Road). Fantastic! Molasses-y nougat enrobed with dark chocolate (not dark dark, but definitely not milk) and some peanut bits scattered throughout for texture. I got it in the drugstore/convenience store on Market between 1st and 2nd (between Stacey's books and McDonald's if I recall correctly).
Also having good luck finding rare candy at the D&S Market on the corner of Bush and Kearny (next to the dungeon). Got some inside-out Reese's peanut butter cups (great! PB on the outside, chocolate on the inside), grape and green apple flavored Mentos (grape tastes like a litter box, but green apple is excellent), York Peppermint Patty with truffled inside (not *those* kind of truffles, chowhounds!), and the new limited edition Nestle Crunch w/peanut butter bar (out of this world).
Another odd source is Fry's Electronics (Concord). They have a substantial candy aisle, and I managed to find a Cup o' Gold, made by an LA candy company I can't remember the name of right now. Big Reese's PB cup style chocolate cup with almond bits throughout the chcoolate and a center of gooey marshmallow-like stuff. And there was a hint of coconut in there, too. Really good.
Thanks for your help in finding more candy delicacies!
Fog City News at 455 Market Street carries a lot of candy bars, though they specialize in high-end and European ones. (E.g., it's a good place to get the English Cadbury bars rather than the ones made in the US.) Might be worth a look. They also carry a good selection of old-fashioned soda brands in glass bottles.
Fog City News doesn't carry the lower end of the candy scale. I tried them for Wine Gums (would love any tips on Bay Area vendors for these tasty treats), but alas they are pretty much strictly chocolate.
I think Haig's Deli on Clement is worth a look. I know they carry some imported stuff like Violet Crumble that isn't always easy to find in the Bay Area.
Sweet Dreams on College and The Candy Store on College might be other places to try.
California Candy in Burlingame was featured on Food TV as a place where you can find candies of all types and candies not allow anywhere else.
The have a website and is wonderful. One day I will have to learn how to link. But you will find it on a yahoo search. I have never been there because I do not to eat any more.
On Lofton Ave in Burlingame.
California Candy http://www.californiacandy.com/ does look like a good source for novelty candy (check novelty section), but the website doesn't offer much in the way of old-fashioned candy bars.
Old Time Candy might be better, although I believe this is strictly mail-order.
Look is a nice bar, thanks for the source. I also like Abbazabba and Big Hunk. Used to love the chocolate Charleston Chew (available at Bed Bath & Beyond -- guess that's the Beyond part), but the last one I had was more like sweet rubber than anything else...
Now you have me craving candy!
Someone told me you can get Valomilks at the Cracker Barrel restaurants, but of course there are no Cracker Barrels on the west coast that I know of. Anyway, I, too, read Candyfreak and am now obsessed with perusing every candy aisle I come across! Good luck with your endeavors, and please let us know if you find any good resources (also, I'm thinking about starting a candy swap in a few months, so that might be a good way to get some obscure candies from all over the nation).
Maybe at the St. Francis Creamery? I've only been once since the new ownership, right after it re-opened, but at that time they planned to turn the candy counter over to classic commercial candies and bars rather than continue making their own (one of the reasons I haven't bothered going back, natch).
I'm not a big sweets person, but my friends are and one of them wanted me to bring them back candybars from England the last time I went.
But since I've been back I've found two places that carry a good selection of them. The only bar name I can remember right now is Double Decker. Oh, and they have Cadbury I believe.
White Caps Cafe
On Geary near Arguello
The British Grocery
15th St. off of Potrero St. (only open Wed-Fri)
Z Cioccolato at 474 Columbus Avenue at Stockton Street has barrels of old-time "penny" candies, buy by the pound. Call 415.395.9116 to ask about the obscure candy bars! They might stock them.
There's another obscure candy shoppe in Tiburon in Marin County. It's across the street from Sam's and the Swedish bakery - sorry, I can't recall its name. But they have chocolate Necco wafers and Red Hots, so that must qualify them for the old time candy market. Who can name this shoppe?
Not one of the obscure candy mentioned, but you can get some of the Lake Champlain chocolate bars at Elephant Pharmacy in Berkeley (on Shattuck at Cedar). I had to taste these after reading the book and gotta agree they are delicious!
It's a shame these regional candies are so hard to find in these days of grocery store chains - I used to be able to get Clark bars (large and miniatures) in any Pittsburgh PA grocery store when I first met Lee, but last couple of visits I've had to search and search.
While it is a matter of personal preference, and many Idahoans would disagree with me, the Idaho Spud bar is not worth seeking out. Kinda gross. The Owyhee Cherry Cocktail by the same company, on the other hand, is great.
I've found no source for these products in the Bay Area. Used to be able to get them in grocery stores across Idaho, but now they don't even carry the regional stuff!
Valomilk and some other candy bars from yesteryear are available from the Vermont Country Store catalog, which you should be able to google and find online. The problem is you can't just buy a single candy bar, you have to get a whole bunch. [I suppose for some people that wouldn't be a problem!]
Years ago I ordered Valomilk, intrigued by the description that the inside was marshmallow that was liquid because too much vanilla was mistakenly added to it. Very disappointed. Every last one of them arrived broken and there was no vanilla flavor, just overly sweet gooey kid stuff.
Fog City News at 455 Market Street (near Montgomery) became famous as a chocolate store that also sells magazines after their candy section grew to the point where it took over most of the store. Unfortunately, they do not have evening or weekend hours, so unless you work in the financial district you can't get there if you are a nine to fiver. I made it there once (when I took an afternoon off for a dentist appointment!).
They only have chocolate from what I recall, no other types of candy, but the selection is impressive, although most of it is high end, not things you remember from your childhood. I saw chocolate bars there that I have not seen anywhere else, most of which I hadn't heard of. I had no idea that Valrohna (sorry about the misspelling) made milk chocolate.
One thing I did not like about Fog City is that there are no prices on anything. Almost seems like a trick to get you to spend more that you otherwise would.
Another source for candy bars you might not find elsewhere is the tobacco store on the East side of Castro between Market and 18th Streets. I think it is two doors South of the Twin Peaks bar. Every version of Sport chocolate bars, lots of wafers, many European chocolate bars, including those with liquor filling.
Harvest Market on Market Street in the Castro has a few obscure candy bars at the counter area. Not a huge selection, but worth checking if you are passing by.
Coffee Tea and Spice on Haight Street used to have an impressive selection of imported chocolate bars, but I haven't been there in years.
Nieman Marcus has a gourmet food section just outside of the rotunda restaurant that seems to be unfairly overlooked. Some chocolate there that might be of interest.
And have you checked Trader Joes? You won't find Clark bars there, but you will find unusual chocolate treats, some of which are bargains.
I think it is nice that there are still some things that are regional that can be discovered when one is traveling. I remember discovering Toblerone bars in Paris, loving them, and savoring the few I brought home with me. Now that you can buy them at Safeway they just aren't special anymore. Altoids used to be hard to find. Now you can't get away from them.
Just thought of two more:
Covered in Chocolate on 24th Street in SF. Sorry, don't have the address or cross streets, but it is on the South side of 24th, somewhere between Castro and Mission.
The next time you are on jury duty or bailing out a buddy, check out the snack bar in the Hall of Justice (850 Bryant Street). Huge candy selection, including Necco wafers - regular or all chocolate. It is *very* difficult to find anyone who carries the rolls of "just chocolate" Necco wafters.
P.S. Chocolate Necco wafers do not contain any chocolate!
re: Bay Gelldawg
The store on 24th is named Chocolate Covered, and he doesn't carry retro candy. He carries a mix of mid-to-high end chocolate and individually packaged chocolate candies like turtles, honeycomb, nuts, espresso beans... a nice shop with great gifting potential, but not the place to look for a Clarks Bar.
You can also get quite a few of these items at the Jimtown Store (Highway 128 near Healdsburg.)
Don't remember if any they have any retro chocolate bars, though.
However, they have the wax lips, candy cigs, bubblegum cigars, candy buttons, Necco wafers, even "Chick O Stick."
6706 State Highway 128
Healdsburg, Calif. 95448
Telephone (707) 433-1212
Thanks for all the great responses and advice! Now I have quite a list of candy shops to visit all over the Bay Area. Come to think of it, there's a candy shop in Montclair that used to have a good selection of stuff, too.
Another candy I'd like to find is Lakrits - a Scandinavian M&M-style candy but with licorice flavored chocolate filling. Really good!
We'll definitely have to set up a candy swap sometime. Everyone, start stockpiling your rare candy and maybe we'll do it at the big Picnic Oct. 9! That could be the tasting event... (But let's talk offboard about that, since it's not germane to the discussion.)
Thanks again, chowfriends!
Just came across this photo, and remembered this thread -- the Golden Nugget Candy Co. (which eventually morphed into Annabelle's, judging by the brands), was once located on Market @ Dolores, where there's a Gap now. We were a candy town, once...
I found Clark Bar at Ranch 99 in Fremont for .69c each. Plenty there by the registers. It's like butterfinger but more nougat like, still hard to bite into. Not to my taste.
a good on-line source for both obscure regional candy bars and regional soft drinks (see also pop and tonic) is Hometown Favorites. Lots of evocative/revolting stuff too like Junket rennet custard (the growing up dessert)and Maypo. Locally The Candy Store on Vallejo near Polk has some first class confections like Zotters and a lot of English type sweets and regular Annabella type stuff. Also very knowlegeable owner without a trace of attitude.
A couple of SF locations that have a small, but well-chosen selection of obscure candy bars are Citizen Cupcake (atop the Virgin Megastore) and Miette Confiserie on Octavia Blvd.
Citizen Cupcake at 4th & Market has a handful of nostalgic candies, but the selection changes. I've seen full-size chick-o-sticks, The big boxes of Ferrara Pan candies (red hots, Boston Baked beans, etc) and a wonderful caramel licorice by Richardson's Candy House in Missouri. They also have a nice selection of artisanal chocolate bars.
Miette has a wide assortment of "old-timey" and imported candies. See the last photo for a glimpse of their candy counter. http://www.miettecakes.com/gallery_2....
Depends where you live. If you are near Petaluma, Windsor or Los Gatos, go to Powell's Candy Shoppe. It's an old-time candy emporium started in Windsor by Michael Powell - he has all of the old stuff and if he doesn't, he can get it. I know that he has Idaho Spuds, Abba-Zabba, Rocky Road and the Clark Bar - not sure about Valomilk, but my guess is that he probably has it. He's got Sen-Sen's, Malo Bars, Violet Crumbles, and just about everthing else. He gets all of the old seasonal stuff too - Christmas and Halloween in this store is like going back in time! He also has the old toys - magnetic hair boards, submarines, chinese checkers - real retro stuff.
I know this sounds obscure, but of all places, I've found some harder to find (but totally lower end dime store-ish) candy bars at Wishbone in San Francisco on the corner of Irving and 7th Ave. I know they're a fun gifts store, but they've got some great retro candies. I always head there when I'm in the mood for some Fruit Stripe gum or Charms fruit candies. They may have Necco wafers and I bought a SkyBar there once.
601 Irving St, San Francisco, CA
vermont country store the above post would not accept the entire link so i am repeating it here
look for the candies section listed on the right side of the page, that will take you to all the great stuff they carry. i wasn't able to post the entire link so this will have to do. the place is worth it!!