Early in October, orange-and-black bags filled with miniature candies start piling up in grocery stores, and toward the end of the month they pile up at home. Instead of grabbing a mini-Snickers from your child’s trick-or-treat stash, satisfy your sweet tooth at one of these Orange County candy stores with something more tempting—say, a handful of dark chocolate espresso malt balls, or even a Clark bar like the kind you bought when you were growing up. You’ll smile like a kid again. Promise.
1. B. Candy
If Katy Perry opened a candy store, it would look like this relocated shop, with bright multicolor stripes on the walls and clear plastic bags filled with shiny metallic pink and purple gumballs ($5). There’s a huge stash of Hello Kitty candy and toys, and big plastic gummi bear lamps ($35). Five blocks down the road from the original and three times as big, the new store offers candy by the pound ($10), and house-made ice cream and baked goods. 3100 E. Coast Highway, Corona del Mar, 949-675-3910, bcandy.com
2. Candy Baron
Tucked amid the surf shops and art galleries off Laguna Beach’s main drag, this store, with other locations in San Francisco and Santa Monica, is so jam-packed with barrels of candy that it can be hard to navigate. Push through to the back of the shop, and you’ll be rewarded with more than a dozen types of licorice, and treats such as dark chocolate espresso malt balls (all $11 per pound). 231 Forest Ave., Laguna Beach, 949-497-7508, thecandybaron.com
3. Orange Candy Co.
All around the little shop, shelves and tables are lined with Abba Zabba, Chick-O-Stik, Bit-O-Honey, Clark bars, Mallo Cups, and more. Don’t see the sweets you loved as a kid? If they’re still being made, the staff will order them. 144 N. Glassell St., Orange, 714-289-4626, orangecandyco.com
Inside an old-fashioned candy shop, named after Walt Disney’s Missouri hometown, the bakery case overflows with chocolate-dipped strawberries ($4.50 to $5.50), marshmallow wands ($4 to $5), and other goodies. Of course, Mickey and Minnie make an appearance—as chocolate-caramel apples with marshmallow mouse ears ($10). Downtown Disney, 1580 S. Disneyland Drive, Anaheim, 714-300-7922
5. Powell’s Sweet Shoppe
There’s so much to see at this cavernous store that your first visit may overwhelm you. Take a second lap before making your final selections so you don’t miss the barrels of old-time candies ($12 per pound), shelves of movie-size boxes ($2.30 to $3), and displays of gourmet chocolate bars—from Vosges to Scharffenberger ($4 to $7.50). 27000 Alicia Parkway, Laguna Niguel, 949-831-9652, powellsss.com
6. Sweet Tooth
Most of the time when you see gummi bears or pretzels enrobed in white, it’s tart yogurt that covers the treats. But at this spot in the University Town Center, it’s white chocolate, and the result is rich and addictive. Load up; loose candies are all $11 per pound. 4237 Campus Drive, Irvine, 949-854-0042
7. Too Sweet
Alluring pictures of Balboa bars may draw beachgoers to this tiny storefront, but it’s the decadent handmade sweets that keep them coming back. Try a handmade peanut butter “bucket” ($3.75), or a caramel apple dipped in chocolate chips or rainbow sprinkles ($5.50). 302 Marine Ave., Balboa Island, 949-723-0223, toosweetbalboaisland.com
8. Balboa Candy
Ever tried chocolate chip cookie saltwater taffy? You can find it here, along with cherry cola, pumpkin pie, and all the traditional taffy flavors. Grab a bucket and toss in some hard candies, sour balls, or licorice for good measure. Taffy and candies are $10 per pound. 301 Marine Ave., Balboa Island, 949-723-6099; and 304 Main St., Balboa Peninsula, 949-673-7021; balboacandy.com
Illustration by Priscilla Iezzi
This article originally appeared in the October 2012 issue of Orange Coast magazine.