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Candyfreak - where to find obscure candy bars?

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  • 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!

Link: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/...

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  1. 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.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Morgan

      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.

      1. re: foodnut
        m
        Melanie Wong

        Hey there, LTNS!

        I'm a Wine Gum fan too (big surprise) and have found them at the British food store down in San Carlos (maybe Belmont).

        1. re: Melanie Wong
          z
          Zach Georgopoulos

          Never had wine gum, but have seen it at the British Grocery, on 15th just off of portrero (sort of in a dead-end parking lot -- a bit hard to spot).

          1. re: Zach Georgopoulos

            On the corner of Sutter and Taylor is the Australian Fair Store. They have some interesting Candy Bars from Australia. (They also have the delicious VEGEMITE)

            1. re: Zach Georgopoulos
              m
              Melanie Wong

              Sorry, that was a typo from me. The candy is called Wine Gums. It's a gummy bear sort of confection, rather than chewing gum. the prices locally were a good deal less than I paid for them in NY. Thanks for the spotting!

          2. re: foodnut

            I'm bummed that they don't carry Red Hots any more! I have seen other low-end candy there in the past, but haven't looked for it lately.

        2. 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.

          Good eating.

          2 Replies
          1. re: yimster

            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!

            Link: http://www.oldtimecandy.com/

            1. re: bernalgirl

              Thanks for your source too. But candy is not longer on my dinning menu. It is a shame I can only dream of it now.

          2. 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).

            1. z
              Zach Georgopoulos

              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).

              1. Powell's Sweet Shoppe in Windsor, Sonoma County has a good selection of candy - something for everyone! We like the Bull's Eyes and the organic chocolate bars. Surely, they have a website, too.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Cynthia

                  In Oakland the Grand Avenue Smoke Shop, located right next to the Grand Lake theater, stocks a good variety of obscure candy bars.

                  1. re: Cynthia

                    Here's a picture I took on Sunday of Powell's Memory Lane.

                    Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

                    Image: http://home.earthlink.net/~melaniewon...

                  2. 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.

                    They are:

                    White Caps Cafe
                    On Geary near Arguello

                    The British Grocery
                    15th St. off of Potrero St. (only open Wed-Fri)

                    1. 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.

                      1. 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?

                        1. 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.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: Celery

                            Hi-- I'm curious what book you read?

                            I tasted Lake Champlain choc. for the first time recently-- a friend brought them back as a gift. Yummy. I really like the caramel filled ones.

                            1. re: rln

                              Candyfreak by Steve Almond - see Alexandra's original post above for a link to Amazon. It'll make you want to find the candy from your youth .. it had me laughing out loud on BART

                              1. re: Celery

                                Oops. Thanks-- bad habit of skipping to responses! I will have to pick it up-- Sounds good.

                            2. re: Celery

                              I think the reason you're having trouble finding Clark Bars in Pittsburgh is because they were recently bought by the Necco Co. which is based in Cambridge, Mass. Very sad! Next time I'm in Boston I'll pick up a big box of Clark Bars to bring back - I'm eager to try them.

                              1. re: Celery

                                Interestingly, though, Steve Almond did visit and write about Lake Champlain Chocolates and how fabulous their Five Star Bars are, so, though not mentioned by the OP, other fans of Candyfreak might be happy to know where to find 'em. I've also seen 'em at the Berkeley Bowl.

                              2. 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!

                                Link: http://www.idahospud.com/

                                1. b
                                  Bay Gelldawg

                                  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.

                                  1. b
                                    Bay Gelldawg

                                    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!

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. 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.

                                    2. 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."

                                      Jimtown Store
                                      6706 State Highway 128
                                      Healdsburg, Calif. 95448
                                      Telephone (707) 433-1212
                                      Website: http://www.jimtown.com

                                      Link: http://www.californiaheartland.org/ar...

                                      1. 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!

                                        1. z
                                          Zach Georgopoulos

                                          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...

                                          Image: http://webbie1.sfpl.org/multimedia/sf...

                                          1. m
                                            Melanie Wong

                                            Remember that Fry's started out as a grocery store. Guess the children kept the sweets.

                                            Here's a link to an article in yesterday's San Mateo Times on Annabelle's.

                                            Link: http://www.sanmateocountytimes.com/St...

                                            1. 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.

                                              1. Powell's Sweet Shoppe in San Jose and Los Gatos carries Valomilks, also Skybars and Goo Goos. First time I've seen them since my days living in Virginia and Minnesota. It's a great candy store, check it out!
                                                http://www.powellssweetshoppe.com/loc...

                                                1. 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.

                                                  1. The Candy Store in SF is awesome. My report here:
                                                    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/463431

                                                    1. 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....

                                                      1. I'm not sure if they have a strong candy bar selection, but there is a little tiny hole in the wall candy store in Alameda on Webster St by Lincoln Ave. The exact name escapes me, but it's something like "The Littlest Candy Shop".

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: nicedragonboy

                                                          It's called Tiny's. I've never been inside so I can't say how well it fits the bill, though.

                                                        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.

                                                          1. 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.

                                                            -----
                                                            Wishbone
                                                            601 Irving St, San Francisco, CA

                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: VirgoBlue

                                                              try two online site...they have almost any old time candy you'd want (except bonomos turkish taffy,,,may it rest in peace)

                                                              HOMETOWN CANDIES
                                                              http://www.hometownfavorites.com/prod...

                                                              The Vermont Country Store (they even have BOSCO!!!!
                                                              )http://www.vermontcountrystore.com/ju...

                                                              1. re: spinach

                                                                vermont country store the above post would not accept the entire link so i am repeating it here

                                                                http://www.vermontcountrystore.com

                                                                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!!