When it comes to sweets, candy gets no respect. In New York, grown-ups can--without embarrassment--satisfy their collective sweet tooth with high-end chocolates, beautiful wedding cakes (and trendy cupcakes), gourmet doughnuts, and Viennese pastries. But for those of us who still get cravings for good old-fashioned candy, is there a place for us in NYC? Gothamist had been wondering this for awhile. And when an old college friend came to visit last week to see The Gates, we figured we'd take her in search of some fancy candy, as she was the one who had gotten us hooked on Swedish Fish in the first place.
Dylan's Candy Bar on the Upper East Side seemed our best bet. We figured that a candy shop that was co-founded and owned by Dylan Lauren (daughter of Ralph) would offer the best candy money can buy, and the Wonkaesque setting to go along with it. Gothamist expected a place that would welcome not only children but "adults" like us who still eat sweet treats on a daily basis.
What we found was a place that seemed more suited to children's temperaments than to adults', on many levels. First, on a weekend afternoon, the store was so packed we struggled to move at all upon first entering. Definitely the kind of thing that doesn't faze a child who's got her mind set on gobstoppers, but made us tense up immediately. Second came the blaring candy-themed songs, one after another, which made Gothamist worry for the sanity of the workers who had to listen to the perpetual candy-song loop.
But more important than the crowds and the music, was the food itself. Upon stepping up to the bar of Dylan's Candy Bar, we immediately set our eyes upon the candified cupcakes--the homage to the classic chocolate Hostess-style cupcake, the Snickers cupcake, etc. We noticed that the cupcakes were supersized and were supplied by Crumbs Bake Shop, a place that has gotten lackluster reviews from the NY Daily News, among others.
We hoped that the cupcakes would be better than Gothamist had heard. Unfortunately, they were worse. The Hostess was rather mediocre (and with hardly any cream filling), the Snickers, inedible. The frosting on the Snickers cupcake seemingly strived toward Snickers-like flavor, but instead was just strange and unpalatable. With both cupcakes, the cake itself was dry and unmemorable.
Gothamist was perplexed as to why Dylan's Candy Bar would choose these cupcakes, considering the many other caterers and bakeries that turn out amazing cupcakes every day. (There's even a better version of the Hostess-style cupcake--made with Valrhona chocolate--available in NYC from Sage American Kitchen caterers.) Gothamist also tried the chocolate-peanut butter fudge, which was super sweet but definitely delicious, as well as some of the signature chocolate candy bars (hazelnut, dark, caramel) that could also hold their own.
Every sort of candy you can remember from your childhood is also on offer, in bins that allow you to measure out how much of each you want. Germ-phobes might be put off, though, by the sight of small children using their hands to measure out the candy instead of the little metal shovels provided. But in the chaos of the weekend crowds at a place like that, you can't expect the candy police to keep kids' hands out of the proverbial (and literal) cookie jar.
It's not that Gothamist didn't like Dylan's Candy Bar; it's just that next time, we'll take our niece or nephew, not fellow grown-ups (no matter how much they love gummi bears).
Dylan's Candy Bar, 1011 Third Ave. (at 60th St.), phone: 646-735-0078.