Valentine’s Day or any time, including for the weddings, anniversaries and baby showers that follow, these NYC candy shops are a treat for inexpensive choices. That includes such vintage favs as Cracker Jacks, Mallo Cups and Chuckles.
Even better, the selection is far more interesting and less expensive than those pre-packaged supermarket and drugstore bags.
Here are the best NYC candy shops for loose candies and chocolates, sour candies, even custom imprinted candies to announce the birth of a boy or girl.
Just don’t tell your dentist.
This shop opened during the Depression to provide some sweetness to down-on-their-luck New Yorkers, and still in the family, operated by third-generation owner Michell Cohen. The specialty is old-fashioned candies at old-fashioned prices.
This is where to find bags of Mary Janes and Tootsie Rolls, wax lips, jelly beans and M&M’s in every color of the rainbow including teal and cream, Jordan almonds, Turkish taffy and salt water taffy, vintage lunch boxes, and the largest selection of Pez dispensers on the planet. When was the last time you saw a package of C. Howard’s violet scented gum?
There’s also modern specialty candies, from M&M-like buttons imprinted with “It’s a BOY” to rock candy swizzle sticks.
Buy by the piece, package or pound, stacked to the ceiling.
- 108 Rivington Street (between Ludlow and Essex), 212- 254-1531
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Open since 2014 and probably best known for its ice cream and fresh-baked doughnuts, but the retro candy is just as top shelf-worthy, and displayed neatly in vintage-style jars. Choose loose candy like Jordan almonds, gumballs, nonpareils and gummy worms, along with tempting boxes of Sour Patch Kids, Chuckles, Lemonheads, giant gummy snakes, licorices, gums, and lollipops.
- 404 East 73rd Street between York and First Avenues, 212-960-8685
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This West Village shop is named for its namesake candy, a little sugar cube-shaped marshmallow, which you can purchase here along with other Swedish favorites including licorices, hard candies, sour gummies and chocolates, including chocolate-covered pretzels.
Loose candy by the pound is displayed in Ikea-like Scandanavian-sleek acrylic bins.
- 89 Christopher Street near 7th Avenue South, 212-206-8170
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Pronounced fair-ins, the Welsh word for sweets, this family-owned shop opened in 2018 with a selection it describes as a trip down memory lane.
In addition to offering old-fashioned wax “fangs”, Starbar, Cracker Jack and other throwback brands, choices from this shop offers new-fashioned sweets and treats from local artisanal suppliers, including Blue Marble ice cream.
Candies are displayed on neat shelves, including rows of glass canisters filled with individually-wrapped candies you can mix and match by the ounce or pound.
438 7th Ave., between 14th and 15th Streets, Park Slope, Brooklyn
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This Coney Island outpost of sugar features mostly candy apples and marshmallows dipped in crunched nuts and sprinkles, so it’s not so much a place to stock up on Halloween goodies as an alternative to the cotton candy that is pretty much ubiquitous around the Boardwalk.
Plus, it’s open all year, and easy to find, next to Nathan’s Famous, also open all year.
- 1318 Surf Ave., Coney Island
The name says it all.
A block or two away is another candy shop, loaded with giant Tootsie Pops and other oversized novelty treats, and oddities such as gummies shaped like hamburgers. Get your saltwater taffy fix from giant bins, to mix and match.
Or, save yourself the trouble of thinking and choosing and get the Nostalgic Large Retro Box filled with nearly three pounds of candies including strips of paper dots and Pop Rocks.
- 1232 Surf Ave., Coney Island
There are two other well-known candy shops not on the NYC on the Cheap list, because they are not cheap:
Mini-chain Sugarfina and Dylan’s on the Upper East Side.
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This article was first published in 2017 and has been updated for 2020.
Evelyn Kanter also is the author of several NYC and Hudson Valley guidebooks, including my latest, 100 Things to Do in NYC Before You Die.