Memories: How are they formed? Where are they stored? What are they made of? In answering these questions, we could delve deep into a lengthy discussion on neural networks, dopamine, and the hippocampus. But I have a better idea, and it’s coated with chocolate and filled with creamy caramel, salty peanuts, and cookie crumbles. After all, it is quite possible that memories are made of candy.
Surely I’m not the only one who has fond memories of sweet treats and crunchy confections. As a child, I roasted in the hot summer sun, concentrating only on looking cool while “smoking” my candy cigarettes. I searched the shelves for any signs of new and unique Pez dispensers. Our annual trip to the amusement park was incomplete without a purchase of bright blue rock candy. Summer camp was a bust if I didn’t receive at least one treat-filled care package from home, and Christmas morning always commenced with a Butter Rum from my Lifesaver Storybook. I could go on and on about Lemonheads, Nerds, Pop Rocks, Candy Buttons, Starburst, and Skittles.
Then, of course, there were the games and the movies: pleading with my mom for just one more game of Candy Land; imagining myself with a golden ticket in hand as I made my way down the chocolate river of Wonka’s factory; nightmares about the creepy candyman kid-snatcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (I suppose even bad memories can be made of candy).
What, I wonder, will be the sweet memories for my children? Will my oldest daughter recall the time she discovered Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans in her Christmas stocking? Will Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups always evoke a smile as she remembers our annual Halloween bartering? Will giant lollipops always remind her of the trip to Hammond’s Candies with her cousins?
Recently, several new candy shops have begun to appear around Fort Collins. New opportunities abound for making sweet memories with your kids, and perhaps a few more for yourself. Yes, their shelves are overflowing with sugar. As you walk in their doors, you may even imagine you can smell the fructose, food coloring, preservatives, and artificial flavors. You may cringe at the thought of sugar highs, empty calories, and spoiled dinners. Someday soon, make a point of ignoring those hesitations. For no reason whatsoever and when they least expect it, surprise your kids with a trip to the candy shop. Watch as their eyes light up and their smiles stretch wide. If you look closely enough, perhaps you’ll even recognize that moment when a lasting memory is made.
To fully research this story, I solicited help from my 12-year-old. She jumped at the opportunity and now believes her mom has the best writing gig ever. Together, we created fond memories at the following candy shops:
1. Rocket Fizz Soda Pop and Candy Shop: This unique, retro, and somewhat crazy shop is a perfect fit for Old Town Fort Collins. Packed full with candy, unique soda pops, gag gifts, movie posters, and tin signs, this store is just plain fun. We couldn’t resist the huge selection of salt water taffy and we spent a great deal of time choosing flavors. We giggled as we browsed the sodas and wondered aloud what Toxic Slime and Bug Barf might taste like. Even the process of paying was fun, with the sales clerk cracking jokes, chatting amicably, and giving us free candies from the mystery bucket. We were so happy as we left the store, that I didn’t even care we’d gone over budget. WAY over budget. Penny candy shops are clearly a thing of the past and Rocket Fizz is certainly not a cheap option for getting a sugar fix. However, it’s the perfect place for a rare treat.
Best Bet: Save trips to Rocket Fizz for when the grandparents visit. They’ll enjoy the nostalgia and the opportunity to spoil and indulge their grandkids.
Location: 123 North College Avenue, Suite 180, Fort Collins, CO
2. The Candy Bin: Previously located in Foothills Mall, The Candy Bin has recently moved to a new location in the Rigden Farm area. With a strip mall location and boring white walls, it certainly lacks some of the charm you’ll find at Rocket Fizz. However, it is much more affordable and offers wall-to-wall bins of candy for scooping. We appreciated the flexibility that came with filling up our own bag: we were able to scoop a little of this, a lot of that, and just one of those. The variety of candy choices is impressive, from the large selections of Jelly Beans, to old favorites like Candy Cigarettes and Atomic Warheads. Even customers looking for a more unconventional sugar high may find what they’re looking for in the box of chocolate covered insect larva. In addition to candy, the kids will enjoy browsing through the stuffed animals and metal lunch pails.
Best Bet: The Candy Bin is the perfect place for the budget-minded sweet tooth and is one to return to more often. The kids can spend a small bit of their allowance or birthday money, and you can easily set limits on budget and quantity.
Location: 2608 South Timberline Road, Fort Collins, CO
Eventually, after we recover from all these sweet indulgences, I’ll surprise my daughter with a trip to yet another local candy shop. After all, it is imperative that I provide my readers with this information, right? Oh, the sacrifices I make…
Keep reading! Part 2 of our candy shop reviews can be found here.
What candy brings back fond memories from your childhood?