Bill Clinton occasionally drops by to pick up some Peanut Paydays, Sex And The City’s Cynthia Nixon loves Red Hots, and Jerry Seinfeld has
hosted a children’s party here. Since Dylan’s Candy Bar opened in New York’s Upper East Side numerous celebrities, tourists and New Yorkers have become devotees of the 10,000sqf store bursting with every chewy, gooey and chocolatey candy imaginable.
With over 5,000 varieties including 22 colours of M&Ms, 48 flavours of Jelly Beans and 12 colours of Hershey’s Kisses, candy-flavoured cosmetics, clothing and novelty candy items such as edible face paint, it appears that Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonker has finally arrived in the real world.
“I wanted to create a fun, lively interactive store that’s more than just a candy store,” says founder Dylan Lauren, daughter of designer Ralph, who has turned her sweet tooth into a sweet success.
Bright, loud and in-your-face with Jackson 5’s Candy Girl blaring from the stereo, the overwhelming smell of candy floss mixed with chocolate and ice cream is intoxicating. A floor-to-ceiling lollipop tree dominates the room, a giant chocolate bunny directs you down the candy-encrusted stairway and all around are display cabinets loaded with the world’s biggest pick ’n’ mix.
Downstairs, a flatscreen TV plays commercials of Seventies flare-wearing kids chewing Wrigleys above a nostalgia section selling Space Dust, Baby Ruths and Licorice Pipes. There’s a row of Pez dispensers, including superheroes and Flintstones, which range from $2 up to $2,000 for a rare vintage collectable opposite some Sweetheart boxer shorts and Sugar Babies pants.
It epitomises Dylan’s love of fun and passion for bright colours and pop art. “As a child I collected unusual candy wrappers, mad cartoon characters on cereal packets and made gifts for my family out of gumballs.”
There may not be a chocolate river and the only Umpa Loompas I could find were of the candy variety, but the experience you get from Dylan’s is a combination of a skip down the yellow brick road into the tasting room of that famous chocolate factory.
And what does Lauren senior make of his daughter’s enterprise? “My dad likes bright colours but he wasn’t sure that this store was going to appeal to kids. I said, ‘I’m the candy person, you are the clothing person. You have to understand, candy brings out the big kid in all of us,”’ Dylan says, as she pops another gummy bear into her mouth.
Dylan’s Candy Bar, 1011 Third Avenue at 60th Street, NYC.