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Emily L and the Candy Store

April 25, 2019

Just yesterday, Little Miss Fussy and I were at The Cocobar in Schenectady. We had tried to go on Tuesday, but the place was closed. Actually, it’s been closed every other time my daughter has attempted to visit this cute little downtown chocolate shop. So she was positively delighted to try all their chocolate dipped treats.

It also blew her mind that a tempering machine was a thing, as she’s been learning all about tempering chocolate as her interest in baking grows. We had fun watching almond and caramel clusters being made by hand through the observation window into the kitchen.

Eating everything was out of the question, because it’s Passover. That meant no chocolate dipped cookies, pretzels, or cake pops. But we did get to try the nuts, fruits, and caramels. While the chocolate is sold by weight, most of the smaller items come out to about a dollar per piece. Our favorites were the cashew caramel clusters and the salted caramel squares.

This is a relatively new chocolate shop, but the Capital Region is also filled with candy stores that have been around for generations. Recently Emily L was surfing on a wave of nostalgia not just for a particular candy store, but for an archaic institution, the candy counter. I’ll get out of the way and her explain.

An Albany Throwback: Candy Counter Style
By Emily L

One of the most interesting things I find about the Capital Region is the longevity of businesses and chain stores. The last standing Howard Johnson restaurant in the area was just an hour north of Albany. Rotterdam just shut its doors on one of the last remaining Kmarts. Troy still has a Friendly’s. Pizza Huts in the area still offer lunch buffets long after they shut down in the rest of the country.

One of the most interesting throwbacks I have found in the area is Boscov’s. This traditional department store offers an optical department and even has a gift wrapping counter. But what I find to be the most fascinating aspect of this store is the candy counter.

Located on the first floor, the candy counter offers hand dipped chocolates and freshly made popcorn. Though the candies are created outside of the department store, visitors can mix and match by the pound, enjoying traditional chocolate coated treats like jellies, jordan almonds, caramels, and, my personal favorite, marshmallows.

It’s a throwback to a time when department stores offered customers everything they could want or need, from household goods to in-store photography to even fine dining experiences. Whenever I go to Boscov’s, there are always a few people milling around the candy counter, picking up a pound or two to bring home. And good luck trying to pick up a box right before Christmas or Easter when the line wraps around the first floor.

Though the chocolates are nothing special, I like the idea of this old fashion service still being available. There is something so interesting and intriguing to me of a time period I never really got to enjoy. Perhaps my inner conscience still longs for the popcorn and mini pizzas at Target my mom would never buy me growing up, and this is my grown up version of indulging in that fantasy. But there is just something about Boscov’s that will keep me coming back to the candy counter.

What other throwbacks can you find here in the Capital Region? Where else should I explore in my journey of food nostalgia?

The first thing that comes to my mind is the drive-in movie theater snack bar, since this is a classic institution that has gone away in many parts of the country. However, I don’t have a lot of experiences with our local drive ins.

Schuyler Bakery seems like another good bet. The neighborhood bakery, where you could go to pick up not just your daily bread, but also sweet treats and snacks is a glorious institution that continues to exist in Watervliet.

And last year, Upstate Old School shot a video about Jimmy’s Lunch in Troy. Although, I must confess my heart belongs to Famous Lunch just down the street. Still Jimmy’s might be closer to what Emily is looking to experience. What do you say?

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Daniel Naylor permalink
    April 25, 2019 2:18 pm

    The Niskayuna Co-op

    I think the area around us also contained the last Ponderosa and the last Ground Round

  2. April 25, 2019 8:00 pm

    Howard Johnson in Lake George is still open, at least as of a few months ago. But the lot is for sale so get there while you can.

    Emily’s Boscov’s reference may finally get me to shop there. Their flyers always creep me out.

    As to a few Friendly’s remaining in the area, that’s not necessarily a good thing….

  3. dave permalink
    April 25, 2019 10:48 pm

    There was a penny candy store on Ontario near Washington Ave. when I was a kid. The guy would get the little paper bag and then you got to order him around the glass case of candy… I remember my Ma getting mad at me for spending a full TWO DOLLARs! of Xmas money on penny candy. She thought it was too much sugar for me. I’m 39. I just bought my daughter a 3.49 pack of gum.

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