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Food & Drink

Candy Land Circa 1937

The thrill of this candy thing may be new to you … but back in the day, they knew from candy.

Witness Economy Candy, a rickety little spot hidden on the Lower East Side and owned by 46-year-old Jerry Cohen, a grizzly NYC native with an auctioneer’s voice and attitude to match.

Brimming floor to ceiling (literally: stepladder needed), the vintage candy warehouse peddles more than 5,000 kinds of candy, all at discount wholesale prices: jawbreakers, licorice, chocolate-covered raisins, root beer barrels, Chiclets, Pixy Stix, lollipops, kosher gourmet jelly beans, and other Willy Wonka-like delicacies.

Started by Jerry’s father, Morris Cohen, in the midst of the post-Depression era, when candy came in barrels (if only!) and high-school sweethearts exchanged boxes of chocolates at Valentine’s (if only!), Economy Candy still flourishes, old-school style. (Jerry Lewis, Red Buttons, and Tony Curtis are all fans; Gourmet magazine calls it “the penny-candy store elevated to an art form.”)

Other favorites include rock-candy swizzle sticks (red, blue, amber, yellow, purple, pink, and green), jawbreakers ($2 per pound), Atomic fireballs, Jordan almonds, candy necklaces, eighteen kinds of halvah, chocolate-covered pretzels (milk, dark, and white), and Pez in every shape, size, and form imaginable. In fact, the only candy you won’t find here is Chunky. “It’s my favorite,” says Cohen, “I don’t sell it because I would eat it all day long.”

So at least the man knows some restraint. (If only!)

Economy Candy, 108 Rivington Street, between Ludlow and Essex Streets (800-352-4544 or economycandy.com).