Places that Matter

Economy Candy

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Shelves full of candies, Elena Martinez
Shelves full of candies, Elena Martinez
Economy Candy
Fox's u-bet Chocolate Syrup, Elena Martinez
Big Hershey's bar, Elena Martinez
Pixy Stix, Elena Martinez
Hamentashen, Elena Martinez
Licorice strings, Elena Martinez
Nuts, Elena Martinez
More candies and British flags, Elena Martinez
Store front-vertical, Elena Martinez
Old fashioned candy shop offering local and world-wide favorites
Place Details »

Place Matters Profile

It's an old tenement storefront on the Lower East Side; the kind of place that doesn't exactly beckon you in from the street. But enter, and you'll feel right at home. Candies you never thought you would see again. Prices you imagined had disappeared. And sales help who ask if they can help you. You've found Economy Candy, where locals have bought their sweets for over 50 years.

The store has something for everyone. Amidst the counters of hand-dipped chocolate, barrels of nuts, shelves piled nearly to the ceiling with chocolates and candy, bins full of penny candy, a gourmet international selection, and vintage children’s games and candy boxes lining the wall, it is easy to find something to satisfy any craving. There are the “nostalgia” items: Mary Janes, Tootsie Rolls, Sky Bars, Pez dispensers, Pop Rocks, and Pixie Stix. There are also the classic “New York City” items, for tourists and native New Yorkers alike. Owner Jerry Cohen says, “We have a lot of tourists coming into the store, and they get a kick out of seeing Fox’s U-Bet chocolate syrup, used to make egg creams. Young kids that come in aren’t familiar with these things. We give them samples of halvah and they say, ‘That’s what my grandparents used to eat. I heard about that.’” Halvah, a staple Jewish American sweet, is a Turkish confection also popular in the Middle East and parts of Asia. Sesame seeds are crushed into a creamy paste called tahini and mixed with sugar, corn syrup, and egg whites. Many immigrant families remember eating halvah spread on bread and eaten like a sandwich. Economy offers different varieties, cut to order from big wedges of fresh-looking halvah.

While Economy Candy sells all these items, it doesn’t produce any candy on site. But its hand-dipped chocolates are made by a local chocolatier, JoMart, in Brooklyn. Besides candy the store does a brisk business in nuts, dried fruits, and teas, as it did over a generation ago. The store also offers a selection of non-candy gourmet items, such as oils, vinegars, and preserves.

Economy is interesting not only for its candy but also for its shoppers. They come in a steady stream. There are the regulars: older ladies stocking up for company and card games; kids celebrating the end of the school day; local workers shopping for home or office, chatting in the aisles. Then there are the first-timers: you can tell by way their eyes fly open when they walk in the door. The mix of cultures and classes is almost as varied as the mix of sweets. Combined with its unprepossessing ambiance, this something-for-everyone quality makes the store feel like a good place to be.