The Candy Bar
The Candy Bar opened at the start of April on College Street, just west of Ossington — an area with plenty of bars and restaurants, but not nearly enough confectionery stores for candy lovers like me. As a sugar aficionado, I was eager to check out the new addition to my neighbourhood.
"Many adults need that sweet fix," the store's owner, Paola Giavedoni, told me when I visited one day after work, craving some chocolatey goodness. She opened The Candy Bar to share her passion for chocolate and international candy and to offer customers an inexpensive escape. "It's all about the simple pleasure and enjoying that one little thing, that moment," she explains. She also has fond childhood memories of visiting her local candy store and, as a nearby resident, wants to offer that experience to her kids, friends, and neighbours.
While perusing the bulk candy bins and shelves of chocolate bars from Canada and around the world, it's clear that Giavedoni is serious about pleasing a range of tastes. She monitors industry trade shows and international chocolate competitions to select her products. (Yes, apparently there are candy trade shows, and yes, it is now a personal life goal to attend one). Giavedoni also strives to provide sugar-free, vegan, gluten-free, and healthier options to customers, within reason: "It has to have a fun factor to it. It's a candy store."
Bulk candy is offered at three price points: $0.99/100g and $1.99/100g for domestic gummies and chocolate, and $3.00/100g for imported candies, including Dutch licorice and British bonbons. I couldn't resist indulging in some Donkers Berries, a personal favourite that is hard to find because, as Giavedoni informed me, it's actually imported from the Netherlands. Anglophiles will be happy to know that The Candy Bar sells imported UK treats like McVitie's Jaffa Cakes and Walker's Toffee.
For her fellow chocoholics, Giavedoni offers a range of Canadian and international bars. As an Italian, she is partial to Amedei Tuscan dark chocolate ($6.29). She also sells award-winning Slitti Tuscan chocolate ($9.99), Denman Island organic chocolate made in BC ($3.99), and Orangeville's own Giddi Yoyo organic and vegan chocolate ($5.25). For those with more adventurous chocolate tastes, you can check out the UK's Gnaw bars in flavours like Rocky Road and Banoffee Pie ($8.50), and Vosges Haut-Chocolat bars in intriguing varieties like Smoke & Stout Caramel and spicy Red Fire Caramel ($9.99).
While Giavedoni strives to offer customers their favourite local or international goods, she also enthusiastically encourages them to try new goodies. It didn't take much arm-twisting to convince me to try some Dutch black licorice and BÃ©quet salted caramels — smooth, melt-in-your-mouth bites of heaven for 75 cents, which are sure to become regular features in my confectionery repertoire.
If the candy-covered shelves don't induce feelings of happiness, the store's fun décor and friendly customer service should do the trick. Giavedoni's husband works in film production, and designed the light, retro-inspired interior. The rainbow of candy-filled glass jars, colourful light fixtures, and handmade piñatas (sold for $25), are a feast for the eyes, and prime the palate for a sugary indulgence. During my visit, Giavedoni warmly greeted customers of all ages, offering to gift-wrap purchases for friends and loved ones. She also sells gift certificates if you don't know what to get that special someone.
It's still early days for The Candy Bar, but there are big plans in the works. Giavedoni is eager to cater more events like weddings and corporate meetings. She also has ambitions to partner with local bars and food shops for tasting events that pair chocolate with wine, scotch, or cheese. "Food is all about sharing with others," she explained to me. My eyes lit up at the idea of a chocolate and cheese "mash-up," as she called it.
So what's this candy enthusiast's verdict? If you're looking for a little pick-me-up or a special treat for someone else, check out The Candy Bar. The lighthearted atmosphere and fun mix of products — inexpensive and gourmet, domestic and international, familiar and obscure — are sure to put a little (sugar-induced) bounce in your step.
The Candy Bar is open daily, 11am-7pm.
Photos by Irina No