Growing up, I had a fantasy of roaming an actual Candy Land (I’m sure we all had it). I’d crawl my way through Molasses Swamp, chow down in the Peanut Brittle House and get a brain freeze in the Ice Cream Sea. I learned this week that Candy Land is not just a board game- it’s an actual place!
Lolli and Pops – Westfield Galleria
1151 Galleria Blvd, Roseville, CA 95678
I had the pleasure of taking a sweet tour, followed by a tasting at Lolli and Pops in my hometown, Roseville, CA. The best part, they have multiple locations all over the USA! Foodies, this was the ultimate candy experience. As you can see, the storefront has a more mature feel to it than the mall candy shops from my childhood did.
I never thought I’d see the day where I would have a candy shop all to myself… Okay, I may not have had it entirely to myself. My tour guide/Willy Wonka for the day was L&P manager, Chris Ruzic, who knew everything about each product. I couldn’t believe how knowledgeable on candy Chris is, he is living the foodie dream.
I have to give this shop major props cause the organization is great; L&P is so easy to navigate! When you first enter, to your right, we actually started at the “adult section”. Don’t worry, it’s not like the local video store days where there’s a curtain blocking you from entering. These treats for the 21 and over crowd are the “choc-ahols”, which are very popular. You have to make sure to keep them out of kid’s hands, cause they do contain up to one shot per serving. Talk about drunk on chocolate. The Jack Daniels chocolates are the top-sellers. They also stock ChocoBeer, Belgian chocolates with beer. How can you go wrong with that?
We moved along into the regional treats. I started with Quin candies from Portland, OR. I got to taste the Tropical Breeze Dreams Come True Chews and loved them. Quin chews are like an elevated Starburst, they melt the second they hit your mouth and releases real juice favor. My mouth is watering as I type this.
L&P carries Sugar & Spun, gourmet cotton candy out of San Francisco, CA. These treats are cotton candy in texture but all have different flavors. I tried all of them and my top 2 were the Li Hing Pineapple (sweet and salty) and the Cookies and Cream.
Then I made my way into the Gumball room (see video here), which brought me back to my childhood. This is where all of our favorite candies are, everything from rock candy to jawbreakers to smartees are represented in this room. I was also blown away by the selection of Icee Candy, bacon candy and chocolate cigarettes (still very popular) they had to offer.
Then there’s the Chocolates room (see the video tour here). Once you walk in, any symptoms of PMS immediately disappear. In addition to bulk items, there’s a selection of what I refer to as “designer chocolates”, the smaller produced, higher end independent chocolatiers that make bars for those of us with more grown up pallets. I did get to try all kinds of different chocolates for the adult and kid in me. There’s also a room devoted to Gummies & Sours where your mouth will immediately start to pucker.
There is a fantastic selection of imported candies. The Kinder chocolates from Germany are the most popular but my favorite imports are the Japanese imports. I’m all about gummies and green tea.
One exclusivity that is delightful is the Mr. Stanley’s Classic British Confectionary. You can’t get these candies anywhere else in the USA.
Then the actual tasting happened. That’s right foodies, I got to sample as I went, but I hadn’t even done the tasting yet. My eyes widened when I realized I had only just begun… Could I handle MORE candy?
As you can see, I had a lot to sample. I started with the gummies and sours. The gummy bears were Albanese brand (legit, there’s an “A” on the belly), which are made with real fruit juice. My favorite was the black cherry; it’s so different than what I grew up with. The sour belts, which are imported from Spain, are a classic for those of us who love a good pucker. Then I got to sample the bulk chocolate classics. I had my first chocolate covered gummy bear, a sea salt caramel, red velvet coated cherries, chocolate covered blueberries and chocolate-coated almond butter toffee.
I also tried my first Toxic Waste candy, which is painfully sour. I loved Warheads growing up, but these were too much. They are a big seller though, so there are plenty of people out there brave enough to try them.
Then we moved on to their truffles. I tried 5 different flavors (front to back):
- Triple Chocolate Cake – Decedent chocolate explosion!
- Sea Salt Caramel – Can’t go wrong with this combo!
- Strawberry Champagne – My top choice! It’s ooey gooey, fruity and I loved the creaminess.
- Sundae – It’s a birthday in your mouth! Loved the cherry jellybean on top.
- Chocolate Peanut Butter – Rich, dense, sweet and savory.
Then, Chris went from Willy Wonka to chocolate sommelier for the tasting. He actually taught me the proper way to try chocolate, which is similar to tasting wine. First, take a small piece of the chocolate and keep it at the tip of your tongue. Then let it melt a bit (it’s amazing how much it can bring out flavors), then start to chew. This tasting technique is no joke; I don’t think I’ll ever just gorge on a chocolate bar ever again. It was also interesting to hear that a lot of people think they don’t like dark chocolate, then realize after on of these tasting they do. Here’s the rundown on the designer chocolates:
- Dandelion Chocolate – From San Francisco, CA. This bar is named after the origin of its cacao beans, Mantuano, Venezuela. It starts very dark then lightens up. The cinnamon and espresso flavors stood out to me. Every bar is also closely inspected and has a legit signature from an employee on the back.
- Chuao – From Arcadia, CA, focuses on different textures. I had the Firecracker bar; it seems like a common dark chocolate bar when it hits the tongue. Then you start to notice a chipotle kick. Then it starts to crackle- cause it has Pop Rocks in it! I turned into a little kid, opening my mouth so I could hear the pop.
- Marou, Fraiseurs de Chocolat – A Vietnamese bar that has a very dark taste at 76% cacao, and then also lightens up with notes of honeysuckle.
- Mast Brothers Chocolate Makers – This bar uses cacao from Belize that some how tastes very light, even though it’s 70% cacao.
- Dick Taylor Craft Chocolate – From Eureka, CA. I had the Black Fig bar, which uses cacao from Madagascar, reminded me of a chocolate Fig Newton.
- Mulate – Dark Milk Chocolate with Tahini and Roasted Sesame, which is from Lithuania. It’s my top choice out of all these. It’s so unique with its softer texture and smoky sesame flavor.
Lolli and Pops also have their own brand of chocolate bars that are sold here and they were hands down my favorite brand. Plus, they have 3 bars for $18 deal, which is great for mix and matching. Their brand offers traditional chocolate bars with different flavors, as well as topped bars, which are chunky with toppings. I started with the traditional bars; the Gimmie S’more and Strawberry Champagne (would be great with a Prosecco) were my top choices. Out of the topped bars, I loved the Almond Chocolate the most; it was like a nutty cake bar.
My tasting tour of Lolli and Pops finally came to a bittersweet end. One great aspect of L&P is that they’re all about experiencing treats with others and they encourage customers to try samples. It’s almost like Bath & Body Works, but edible. Based off my experience, I don’t see how anyone could walk away unhappy. I hope L&P expands to more malls, so the kid in all of us can experience one!