Economy Candy is a true New York City institution, hawking treats on Rivington Street since the 1930s, first as a candy cart outside a shoe and hat repair store, and then — once the Cohen family took over right after World War II — evolving over the decades (and two locations) into the packed-to-the-rafters sweets shop that we know today.
That's a lot of NYC history to go through, and for this particularly brutal, Covid-lousy chapter, third-generation owner Mitchell Cohen and his wife Skye Greenfield Cohen have had to close their brick and mortar to the public. But thanks to the internet and our intrepid armies of delivery people, that doesn't mean the Economy Candy magic is gone from our lonely, isolated lives.
"One way we're trying to capture the joy of being in our store is through our CandyCare Packs," Skye told Gothamist. These new, online-only packages come in four sizes, cost from $35 to $100 each, and are filled with a curated selection of treats from all over the store. "We're trying to recreate that sensory overload, little kid in a candy store feeling that so many people describe when walking in by putting together mystery grab bags of all of our favorite and most popular items."
The Cohens have some 2,000 different products in their inventory from which to choose, and my giddy-making, $50 "Economy"-sized pack included Chunky and Snickers bars, Gobstoppers, Nerds, Pop Rocks, Twizzlers, a bag of Haribo gummies, a Whatchamacallit, an emoji Pez, Sour Power straws, Nestle Crunches, Tootsie Pops, a Fun Dip, Bazooka gum, a bunch of Bit-o-Honeys, Butterfingers, a strip of Zotz, and a Cherry Flavor “Big Big Gummy Bear” weighing in at three quarters of a pound. Honestly, it's enough candy to last me a year, but I hope I'll be able to share my bounty with friends and strangers before that much time passes.
Obviously, receiving a CandyCare Pack makes for an excellent mail day—and shipping is free, so it's easy to spread the love around—or you can pick up your pre-ordered pack curbside outside of the store. There are a few other varieties as well, including a Movie Night Pack with classic theater snacks, a Combo Pack with dried fruits and nuts in addition to the candy, and a Recess Pack with retro toys. Of course, you can also pick and choose from among Economy Candy's vast array of items (that kind of an order will not include free shipping), but the fun and surprise of the Pack is where it's at as far as I'm concerned.
Not that any of this can truly replace the Economy Candy experience. "A big part of Economy Candy is our customers" Skye told us (over a very social-distanced email). "Many of our customers have been shopping with us their whole lives and have memories of coming in with their grandparents and memories of when Mitchell's grandparents were running the store. We both miss those face to face catch ups both with local customers and with tourists who are excited to learn about our history and share stories about where they are from."
As for the future, Skye says they have not applied for any loans at this time, but added, "Like many of the businesses in New York right now we are struggling and are doing everything possible to take care of our employees the best we can. We have had to close our retail store and have gone from a 15 person operation down to just me and Mitchell doing whatever we can to fulfill online orders. We are working around the clock to spread cheer and joy, and are hoping that we are able to buoy our online sales enough to keep Economy Candy going throughout the duration of the pandemic." The couple have been walking two miles each way to and from the store every day for 16-hour work days.
"We have been around for over 80 years and plan to be around for at least another 80," Skye said.
You can check out their CandyCare Packs here.