Thursday, October 4, 2007

Candy Travels - NCA Reveals Top 10 Sweet Destinations

The National Confectioners Association (the people who run the All Candy Expo) released a list of what they call America’s Top 10 Sweet Spots for Halloween.

Here are their cities with my notes:

Fresh from the Factory Reese's1. Hershey, Pa. Yes, they mentioned the Hershey empire with the park and Chocolate World and the Spa at The Hotel Hershey. But what you may not know is that there are lots of other confections within an hour of Hershey. Don’t miss Lititz, PA, home of Wilbur Chocolate and a fantabulous outlet store (with far better prices than you’ll find at the Chocolate World mall). Also in Souderton, PA, Asher’s Chocolate, Wolfgang in York, PA.

2. New York, N.Y.—They mention M&Ms World & Hershey’s in Times Square, Jacques Torres and Dylan’s Candy Bar, but miss many of the other confectionery delights: MarieBelle, Kees, Vosges, Pierre Marcolini, Max Brenner and Economy Candy. (See my New York Guide.)

3. Orlando, Fla.—I’ve never been there. The highlight Disneyworld and other mass-produced candy meccas like Dylan’s Candy Bar & Ghirardelli stores.

4. San Francisco, Calif.—this is a huge confectionery town. Ghirardelli, Scharffen Berger, Jelly Belly (in Fairfield) as well as Joseph Schmidt, CocoaBella, the new Charles Chocolates cafe and factory as well as some really great candy shops and don’t forget the Ferry Terminal (Recchiuti & Miette). I’ll have more in December. (Here’s my current guide for the Bay Area.)

Ethel's Holiday Assortment5. Chicago, Ill.—Home of Ethel’s, Blommer, Ferrara Pan, Tootsie and a bunch of other companies that don’t offer tours but you can snuggle down at one of the five Ethel’s Chocolate Lounges. Vosges calls Chicago home, as well.

6. Los Angeles, Calif.—This is where I live and I can tell you that the press release was talking about Anaheim in nearby Orange County. (I did a little bit on Disneyland here). No factory tours for you here, but plenty of chocolatiers like Boule, Compartes, Valerie Confections, Jin Patissiere and Artisan du Chocolat. (Here’s my local shopping guide.) Don’t forget about See’s ... if you don’t live on the West Coast, it’s a must stop that won’t break your budget.

7. Boston, Mass.—the one time I visited Boston, I don’t think I had ANY candy (but made a wonderful trip to Filene’s Basement back when it was actually in the basement.). They highlight Boston’s part in making Halloween the holiday that it has come to be (but I can’t eat history!)

8. New Orleans, La.—again, another one I’ve never visited, but any city that loves coffee, pecans and boiled sugar is going to be a favorite. They suggested Evans Creole CandyFactory, Laura’s Candy Shop and Aunt Sally’s Praline Shop (I got some of their pralines at the All Candy Expo).

9. Las Vegas, Nev.—There’s really nothing unique in Las Vegas, except for the sheer density of it all. There are many large branded stores and fine European chocolatiers that want you to sugar up with them. M&Ms World, Ethel’s Chocolate Lounge, & Vosges.

Elbow & Siegel10. Kansas City, Mo.—I’ve never been, but I’ve certainly had plenty of candy from Kansas City. Russell Stover is there, as is Christopher Elbow and Andre’s Confiserie.

The Pacific Northwest is conspicuously absent from this list. Portland and Seattle are amazing chocolate, toffee and caramel towns ... not that I’ve toured them with that in mind ... yet. If anything, Los Angeles and Orlando don’t belong on that list.

If you don’t feel like going too far afield, I did a little map last year with the confectioners I’d tried so far ... maybe you can make a little vacation for yourself for the price of a box of chocolates.

POSTED BY Cybele AT 11:32 am Tracker Pixel for Entry     CandyFeatured NewsShopping

  1. San Francisco is also home to Guittard, one of my favorite chocolate makers.

    Cybele, if you ever need any tips about the Bay Area, and good, but not necessarily famous locations, I’m happy to help out. Since it sounds like you’ll be visiting again. I’ve explored many, many shops in the South, North, West and East Bay. I just wish I’d taken better notes!

    Comment by Kate on 10/04/07 at 11:55 am #
  2. MAH Boston’s highlights got cut off!  I’m from Boston, I want to know what’s on there!!!

    Comment by Allegra on 10/04/07 at 12:24 pm #
  3. Cybele's avatar

    Allegra - I fixed it ... sorry!

    Kate - I’ll be in the Bay Area (probably Oakland) over the weekend of November 17th for a fundraiser for National Novel Writing Month. I want to visit, Charles Chocolates new cafe & hopefully a tour at Guittard Factory and perhaps Sconza and/or Annabelle’s (if any of the above are gracious enough to host me).

    Also on my list:
    Z Cicciolato - Columbus Ave, SF
    The Candy Store - Vallejo St., SF
    Miette Confisiere - Octavia St., SF
    Chocolate Covered - 24th St., SF

    If you have more spots, especially East Bay, please pile them on!

    Comment by Cybele on 10/04/07 at 12:39 pm #
  4. Boston and Cambridge have been home to a number of candies: Charleston Chews were made in Boston for many years.  Necco wafers were made in Cambridge, as well as other Necco products such as the Sky Bar candy bar.  There is still a Tootsie Roll plant in Cambridge, as well as DeHaviland Chocolate (a small brand owned by Necco).

    Cambridge hosts chocolatier L.A. Burdick’s just beyond Harvard Square.  They make amazing hand-made chocolates of all sorts, and it’s a great place to stop for a cup of REAL hot chocolate on a cold Boston day.

    Comment by Brian on 10/04/07 at 3:03 pm #
  5. Okay, as the Pacific Northwest apparently does not exist in the eyes of the NCA (as you pointed out), let me call out a couple-few highlights, (which don’t even include all of the great small-scale artisan chocolate companies):

    Brown and Haley, makers of Almond Roca and Mountain Bars - Tacoma, WA

    Theo Chocolate - Seattle, WA

    Dagoba Organic Chocoalte - Ashland, OR

    Liberty Orchards (Aplets and Cotlets), Cashmere, WA

    Owyhee (Idaho Spuds, Old Faithfuls), Boise, ID

    Not such a bad showing… don’t we at least deserve a mention?

    Comment by Joanna on 10/04/07 at 7:36 pm #
  6. Great list, thanks!  wink

    Comment by speedmaster on 10/05/07 at 7:32 am #
  7. Ooooo, I might be headed Kansas City’s way next year for a wedding.


    Comment by Sera on 10/05/07 at 12:14 pm #
  8. Well, I forget that you get the factory tours. So lucky! And Guittard? *sigh* It’s hard to top that. I also should have mentioned I know most chocolate locations, not candy as much.

    There are a few places along College Ave in Berkeley/Oakland. They are easily Googled.

    Lulu Rae Confections: a chocolate and confection shop that carries a variety of local to European treats and filled chocolates.

    Rockridge Market Hall: a decent selection of chocolates and unusual confections, local and imported. I’m more familiar with their Berkeley branch, but this should be bigger.

    Bittersweet Cafe: amazing selection of bar chocolates. And you can do a hot chocolate taste test vis-a-vis Charles’.


    Alegio Chocolate in Berkeley: they have their own line of filled chocolates and bars with toppings (the bars are amazing!), plus an interesting selection of artisan chocolates. But the owner, Panos, is the draw. Very informed, passionate and, um, opinionated.

    And since I can’t resist, I am going to e-mail you my complete list of Bay Area shops w/ links. Those above are a quick East Bay list.

    Comment by Kate on 10/05/07 at 12:49 pm #
  9. I live in Lancaster, Pa (near Lititz, Hershey, and York), and there are a TON of small little local candy shoppes all over the area, especially in the tourist areas!  I can heartily reccomend Wilbur Buds, and chocolate covered animal cookies from Wolfgang wink

    Comment by Anna On The Moon on 11/01/07 at 5:54 pm #
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