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It’s the economy, stupid.

Candy nostalgia reigns supreme in the Lower East Side’s Economy Candy store. This circa-1937 Lower East Side staple is filled from floor to ceiling with retro and international confections, including innumerable  brands you never knew were still in production, or even existed from the get-go. Remember wanting to ‘smoke’ candy cigarettes at the corner drugstore like the big kids? Want a piece of Big League Chew after Sunday’s pick-up game? Imagine a rainbow colored array of chocolates, candy button, lollipops, taffies, collectible Pez dispensers, rock candies, gum-balls and every treat that’s meant to upset your dentist. New York Magazine’s review writes, “Rivington Street’s Economy Candy is pure over-the-top New York, a font of variety and abundance that would leave Willy Wonka weeping in his cocoa.”

That’s me, Keren, posing like Economy Candy’s mascot, below! See the resemblance?

Want an Economy Candy Tote for your finds?

Candies by the box

Zagnut bar? Here. Charleston Chews? You bet baby! You want thingamabobs? They’ve got twenty…It is literally impossible to feel depressed in this sucrose, dextrose neon colored dream. In usual NYC fashion, the store is three times smaller than it should be, almost like a Hoarders episode meets an encyclopedic, library-esque sweets store. The space can feel cramped pretty quickly, and lines of by-the-pound shoppers can get daunting during (sugar) rush hour but, don’t let that dismay you!

Baseball Cards and Candy Buttons

Kitsch Galore with Piggy Bank Tins

Fox’s U-bet Chocolate & Flavored Syrups are an original, Brooklyn-bred treat from the era of the soda jerk! Created in 1895, this liquid is rumored to be the only way to make a perfect New York Chocolate Egg Cream.

I will let Economy Candy explain the history of this institution, straight from the horse’s mouth, “Since 1937, on the Lower East Side Economy Candy is an old-fashioned, family-owned candy store that sells hundreds of kinds of chocolates, candies, nuts, dried fruits; including halvah, sugar free candy and of course all the old time candy you had when you were a kid.

When Jerry Cohen’s father opened Economy Candy in 1937, it was a typical corner candy store of its day. Bulk bins full of colorful hard candies enticed youngsters with their panorama of choices. Guys could buy their dolls a heart-shaped box of chocolates when they had trouble expressing themselves in words. Barrels in the back yielded a geography lesson of nuts from around the world. The hard times of the Depression were easing up, the grim specter of war-to-come wasn’t yet hovering over American shores, and television was a scientific marvel that was unlikely to have any practical commercial application.

Years later, the Dow Jones is soaring to previously unimagined heights, military actions are measured in days, and computer-literate three-year-olds are unnervingly common. And the former youngsters of 1937 still visit Economy Candy for a scoop of goodies, a bag of pistachios, or a slice of halvah like you can’t get anywhere else. And their children and their children’s children shop there, too. This old-fashioned candy store offers SOLID DISCOUNTS on everything from sour balls to upscale chocolates.”

Lollipop, Lollipop, Oh Lolly Lolly Pop!

My coffee cup is resting precariously on Old Fashioned Candy Sticks and Candy Canes so I could get this shot of the M&M wall. The confectionary utopia has common candies as well (and sometimes ever color coded), however its strength lies in the products of yore!  The whole space reads like a Pop Art painting.

My friend, Jeffrey J., exploring the endless possibilities in this parlor of sweets.

The Candy Man Can

Feel like a “Kid in a candy store”, yet? If buying in bulk is not your forte, trying living with these pastel, saccharine soaked products:

Candy is Dandy but Liquor is Quicker

Shop by the Numbers:  1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8

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The Meadow

Tucked within the patchwork of cobblestone streets in the West Village neighborhood of New York City lies The Meadow. The store is the self touted ultimate source for gourmet salt, rimming salt, curing salt, finishing salt, sea salt, and artisan salts from around the world. The shop also carries chocolates, bitters, and fresh flowers. In short, it is a savory haven filled to the brim with saliva-producing tastes and smells. The space is postage-stamp sized, highly personal, and quaint. In the summer the shop even offers homemade ice cream sandwiches topped with sea salts and chilis! ARTISANAL! YES. Get thee to The Meadow for a dose of inspiration, stat.

If you have not heard about it, or usually do not partake in the world of nonfiction history through food (Cod, Splendid Exchange, The Big Oyster, et. al.), I highly suggest you pick up (and subsequently read) Salt. This mineral has a long and trying tale – a substance so valuable it served as currency, salt has influenced the establishment of trade routes and cities, provoked and financed wars, secured empires, and inspired revolutions.  Next time you reach your hand across the dining room table or spin the lazy-susan, think about the surprising importance of this commodity. In the end, we’re talking about an EDIBLE ROCK.

Himalayan Salt Blocks are truly the perfect pink color. Shave away!

The store not only smells fantastic (and I really do have a visceral reaction to how well planned and tactile it all is), it is also designed to fully appreciate the arts. This is my cathedral of gustatory meets visual – where lush flowers intermingle with charcoal smoked salts, where finely framed gouaches match the colors of paper-covered bottles of bitters. Sensual – to the truest sense of the term.

Japanese Salt Set – 1.2 oz Jars – A set of five gourmet Japanese Sea Salts: Amabito No Moshio, Iburi Jio Cherry smoked salt, Shinkai Deep Sea Salt, Takesumi Bamboo and Cherry Plum. Photo by The Meadow.

Mark Bitterman, one of the founders of this shop and second half of the married duo, also wrote a book extolling the wonders of salt. It seems it is easy to write a book about an item that is older than civilization itself! Salted: A Manifesto on the World’s Most Essential Mineral with Recipes should probably line the wall’s of every kitchen’s cookbook shelf. “From the elegant fleur de sel and flake salts to 500 million year old Himalayan salt slabs that resemble pink quartz, Bitterman explains the history and science of salt production. The book profiles over 150 salts, and includes 50 recipes that showcase this versatile and marvelous ingredient.” If your kitchen scares you, or if like I used to, you live in a 500 sq. foot apartment wherein your kitchen touches your bathroom which touches your bed – buy this book just for its glorious photos.

As always, my favorite storefronts are directly inspired by the visual arts, “Before founding The Meadow, Jennifer Turner Bitterman (other half of the duo) worked as an art historian at The Metropolitan Museum and The Frick Collection in New York, The Getty Museum in Los Angeles, and the Musee du Chateau de Versailles in Paris. Jennifer’s passion for cooking, eating, and reading and writing poetry have guided her travels and inspired her belief in running a business that above all honors the intimate connections between producers, merchants, and customers.”

Would it be too weird to begin using these salt blocks as legs for tables? Or as bookends? Salt should be the next frontier in interior design. 

Your eyes doth deceive you!  Michel Cluizel Milk Chocolate Sardines – 5 pc Tin – Sardines En Chocolat Au Lait – Fine chocolate doesn’t have to be serious. These five milk chocolate sardines from Michel Cluizel are still made of the highest quality ingredients, but with an added element of fun.

I have actually had dreams that feature a wall of chocolate like this.

To show you that I am not crazy and that salt CAN actually be used as design inspiration, check out these Epsom Salt Luminaries, above. Photo and a how-to from Crafts by Amanda, HERE.

The shop’s name was chosen because Jennifer wanted to create a place that felt like coming home, where personal connections and sensual pleasures welcome you. I suggest you visit and spend time amidst beautiful fresh cut flowers, taste strange and enticing foods, and explore the astonishing depth of the elemental ingredients.

And now, for a pun, you’ve officially been A-SALT-ED (assaulted? get it? ….crickets).

P.S. All photos taken by me unless otherwise noted.