The presence of a brick and mortar candy store still rings as extremely nostalgic even as nostalgia itself has evolved into a trendy topic (e.g. just Google “‘90s brown lipstick” and see how many articles were published on it in 2015). Candy shops today are either very kid-friendly and with a layout that would fit right in a Chuck E Cheese (think: It’s Sugar!), or are glitzy and refined, treating sweets as gingerly as precious gems. Sugarfina is definitely a candy shop of the good life standard and was a Willy Wonka inspired concept conceived by real-life couple Rosie O’Neill and Josh Resnick.
As O’Neill shared with the New York Post back in October while in attendance of the launch of Sugarfina in Manhattan’s Columbus Circle: “We created Sugarfina because the candy store of our dreams didn’t exist. We dreamed of gourmet sweets made with premium ingredients — candy that’s as beautiful to look at as it is to taste –- and our new shop brings delicious, never-before-seen candies to the Big Apple.”
Like all great inventions or concepts, I’m writing about Sugarfina right now because O’Neill and Resnick made the ambitious yet necessary forward to make their visions (of a more upscale, otherworldly candy store) a reality. We see this old as day evolution of pen to paper to plans to fruition in biopics like the recently released Joy, starring Jennifer Lawrence (playing Joy Mangano, a self-made millionaire who created the Miracle Mop appliance) and other super-specialized retailers, such as Happy Socks and Teavana. For its first few years out, Sugarfina was only available online and commenced with a $60,000 investment. (Check out Fast Company‘s really great profile on the brand here). In 2013, the first Sugarfina store opened in Beverly Hills, California.
Sugarfina’s first Massachusetts store is in Boston’s Prudential Center, opening this past December after months of shoppers seeing their spot in the mall card boarded up with its logo. I was curious about it and I could tell it was going to be some kind of luxury-type candy store, which is the current aesthetic of the Prudential Center. Years ago, the entire mall was a bit more edgy and campy, with spaces like the Warner Brothers/WB Store and a Spencers-type mash-up shop of gothic home decorations and ’50s rockabilly gear. There even used to be a Sweet Factory where is now a Lacoste. Today, Sugarfina fits right in as across from it is Swarvoski, around the corner is the long-standing Saks Fifth Avenue and on the opposite a Tesla pop-up shop.
This past weekend, I stepped into Sugarfina, as (1) you don’t have to tell me twice about a new candy shop opening and (2) pure curiosity. The decor is clean and pastel, with light turquoise as its main color (very Tiffany & Co.) I was greeted instantly by an employee (good) and went to perusing what they had to offer. I quickly noticed that Sugarfina’s tastes are very international, which I think is wonderful. The first candy that caught my eye and almost my wallet were the Kyoto Blossoms, tiny rock candies shaped like blossoms and are imported from Japan. They are so pretty to look at and in their boxes, are laid out on top of each other like rainbow watercolor paintings.
I continued my tour of looking at the names of the candies and the fun colors and textures. It was like being in Aji Ichiban for me, which is this great semi-hole in the wall (only if you’ve never heard of it) on 37 Mott Street of Manhattan’s Chinatown. It is Asian candy heaven.
Further down, I saw Dulce de Leche rolls from Denmark, tons of remixes of the malt chocolate ball and marshmallows. Also quietly on display are Sugarfina’s first claim to fame product, the Champagne gummy bears that are made with Dom Perignon and imported from Germany. The fancier sweets go on with the Bling Ring, a wraparound dark chocolate, and Fuji Apple Caramels, made in the U.S. of A. Sugarfina also offers customers a paid in advance candy concierge, a $250 sampler of every candy in the shop, and a make your own “Bento Box”, where the candies of your choice are placed in fancy boxes.
Sugarfina can be a little pricey depending on how much candy you want to take home with you. The small boxes are a reasonable $7, while the bigger ones are $25 and up. The largest Bento Box costs $248. If you have money to burn, you can easily spend over $50 if you are a candy-nut and easily swayed by Sugarfina’s atmosphere.
I spent ten dollars and some change on one box of Champagne Bears and a five piece sour candy pouch of Sugar Lips. I was okay with the total amount and honestly would’ve gone in some more (hence my warning on how easy it is to splurge here).
The Champagne Bears taste just like average gummies with a slight touch of Perignon. There is another version in that the Bears contain gold flakes inside and likely burst with more champagne flavor. But I would buy them again. The Sugar Lips are absolutely tart and are true sour candies. You will actually make the face that is illustrated on the bags of Sour Patch Kids.
I do want to try more of the chocolates and of course, those Kyoto Blossoms. Sugarfina is A+ bougie and if you got some money to burn on one of life’s most favorite past times, eating sweets, go for it. You know you aren’t taking out the credit card here for any ol’ Kit Kat bar here (that’s what our beloved drugstores are for).