At Valentine’s, many women receive heart-shaped boxes of candy.
This past Feb. 14, David Burns didn’t purchase candy. Instead, he bought his wife, Amanda, a candy store.
Rocket Fizz opened six months later in Rice Village. The franchise candy store specializes in old-fashioned soda pop, retro candy and nostalgia-driven novelties.
The super-size candy store is an explosion of color with bin after bin of pastel-tinted salt water taffy, tin signs and magnets, oversize chocolate bars, gummi worms, Smarties, giant lollipops and replica concert posters.
The first Rocket Fizz store opened in Camarillo, Calif., in 2009, and today there are about 30 other independently owned and operated stores. Most are located in California, including one operated by Amanda Burns’ brother. This is the first Texas store.
Rocket Fizz stocks more than 500 soda pops, including some with questionable appeal, such as Peanut Butter, Buffalo Wing and Kumquat. It’s largest selection of sodas is devoted to root beer.
“We get a lot of root beer connoisseurs,” Amanda Burns said. “They come in once a week just to try new ones.” In addition to root beers, such as Bawls, Abita, Hank’s and Frostop, the store carries hard-to-find takes on the carbonated drink, including birch beer and sarsaparilla.
Amanda Burns likes the root beers but admits to a preference for the Australian Bundaberg Ginger Beer and the Texas-made Dublin Vanilla Cream Soda.
While young customers can be wide-eyed, the owner said adults have as much fun as the proverbial kid in a candy store.
“Whether you are 9 or 90, you’re going to have a good time,” she said.
So what makes Amanda Burns feel like a kid again?
It’s the store’s wax lips and fangs.
“That’s one of my earliest childhood memories,” she said, telling a story of how a teacher delighted her young students with a gift of wax lips. “I still love them.”
Rocket Fizz: 2413 Rice Blvd., 713-523-3499
Rocket Fizz is just the latest store we’re sweet on. So with Halloween approaching, we offer our other picks for Houston’s best candy stores:
The Chocolate Bar
This shrine to all things chocolate is celebrating it’s 10th anniversary this week. Known for its monster-size slices of cake and candy-studded house-made ice creams, the store also offers almost anything you can imagine dipped in super-rich chocolate. Popcorn, Oreos, raspberries, apple slices, bananas, graham crackers, almonds, raisins, espresso beans, pretzels — all get an artful coating of chocolate.
When we “save room” for dessert, we head here for an enough-for-two slice of the four-layer Aunt Etta’s Chocolate Cake. It’s chocolate cake with — you guessed it — chocolate icing. It’s seriously good. Both Chocolate Bars — there’s one in River Oaks, another in Rice Village — are open till midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, making for a nifty late-night date stop.
River Oaks: 1835 West Alabama, 713-520-8599
Rice Village: 2521 University Blvd., 713-520-8888
These Chocolate Bar-sister operations have a bit more kid-appeal. The petite stores offer a colorful buffet of candies and gummies, as well as M&Ms by the pound and collectible Pez dispensers. Looking for something nostalgic? Consider Pop Rocks, a Clark bar or a fistful of Atomic Fireballs. They’re all here.
River Oaks: 1837 West Alabama, 713-529-6500
Rice Village: 2515 University Blvd., 713-874-1988
Dylan’s Candy Bar
Sure it’s filled with tourists and can be a pricey, but this Galleria candy store and ice cream shop is serious about its sweets selection. Part of a boutique chain of candy stores founded in New York City, Dylan’s offers a nice mix of high-end and low-brow candies. And just in time for Halloween, it’s stocked with Hello Kitty Skelly Bones, skull-shaped ring pops and giant gummy snakes.
5085 Westheimer, 713-621-5551
Kandy at Kemah
One of the many small shops on the Kemah Boardwalk, this candy store gets kudos for its selection of bulk Jelly Belly jelly beans. We counted more than 50 flavors including Apple Pie, French Vanilla and Coconut. The store also is our first stop when we’re looking for plush toys, as it carries just about any stuffed creature you could imagine.
10 Waterfront Dr. in Kemah, 281-538-4077
You can get a lesson in chocolate making when you stop at the Westpark store, which is a combination factory and ice cream parlor. A 90-foot-long glass wall provides a view into the factory where chocolate is cooked in copper pots and candies, such as pecan clusters, are still made by hand.
In the retail store, you’ll find hundreds of chocolates, many of which are made from recipes that have been used since the family-owned operation began in 1946. There’s also house-made frozen custard, Italian ice and gelato.
Factory store: 8168 Westpark, 713-784-3000
Retail story: 4934 Beechnut, 713-664-3100
La King’s Confectionary
Candy is old-school and house-made at this Galveston institution with roots dating to 1927. The setting is as sweet as the menu: a 150-year-old storefront with wooden floors, retro furniture and a 1920s soda fountain.
One side of the expansive store is devoted to ice cream, including generous scoops, rich milkshakes and whip-creamed topped sundaes. The ice cream is Purity, which is made in-house and is the oldest ice cream brand in Texas. On the other side are long wooden cases filled with hand-dipped, house-made chocolates, salt-water taffy, pralines, fudge and divinity, an old-fashioned Southern candy made of egg whites and sugar.
2323 Strand in Galveston, 713-762-6100
This California-born manufacturer of chocolate treats has just opened its first free-standing shops in the Houston-area. The Baybrook store marked its grand opening last week and the Willowbrook Mall shop will celebrate its grand opening at 9:30 a.m. Friday.
Visitors to the grand opening can see antique vehicles, spin a wheel for the chance to win gifts and sample the candy. And check out the new fall candies, which include Pumpkin Pie Truffles, Orange Krispys and the Sour Bats.
Baybrook: 500 Baybrook Mall, 281-480-4333
Willowbrook: 2000 Willowbrook Mall, 281-807-1331