Have a hankerin’ for some sweet nostalgia this Halloween? Think popcorn balls, red and black licorice, bubblegum cigarettes, Big Hunk candy bars, Pop Rocks, Hot Tamales and vintage sodas. You won’t need a time machine to find places that sell these old-fashioned treats, candies and sodas. Grab your wallet and get ready for a blast from the past that will be perfect for trick-or-treaters or to pair with an adult beverage for a spooky party.
Cole’s Gourmet Popcorn & Treats
Cindy and Tom Cole opened their sweets spot more than two years ago with one thought in mind: making the best popcorn anywhere.
“Tom traveled all over the country for his corporate job,” Cindy said. “I’d go with him sometimes, and we would always try out different popcorns. Sometimes we found something we liked, but mostly it tasted stale or like cardboard.”
Their secret, Cindy says: “We don’t just spray or shake flavor onto our popcorn. We invested in special mixers that completely coat the freshly popped corn with flavor and give it a chance to get under the surface.”
Once they perfected the popcorn flavoring, they turned their attention to making Tom’s favorite childhood memory: popcorn balls.
“My mother used to make the best-tasting popcorn balls,” he said. “They were soft, not the hard things that are usually sold commercially – so big and hard they are impossible to eat.”
He found his mom’s recipe and started experimenting to make a confection that was soft and easy to eat. It’s as near perfection as any popcorn we’ve sampled.
You can get them plain or decorated with spiders and bloodshot eyes.
Cole’s offers many of the old-fashioned candies as well as a staggering display of Pez dispensers.
“We call ourselves Pez Central,” Cindy said.
Details: 7830 N. Academy Blvd., 434-1461, colespopcorn.com, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays.
Rocket Fizz Soda Pop & Candy Shop
Steve Benavides, owner of the franchise, was looking for something different to do after more than 30 years in the military.
“When we were stationed in California, we would go to the farmers market,” he said. “After shopping at the market, we’d take the kids to the nearby Rocket Fizz store for a soda. It was just a fun, old-fashioned soda and candy store.”
He thought it was one-of-a-kind, but later found out it was a franchise operation.
“We were in Florida and saw one of the stores there,” he said. “I thought this would be a fun business to do when I retired.”
The idea became a reality when he opened the first Colorado Springs Rocket Fizz Soda Pop and Candy Shop in 2015.
“At any given time, I have from 470 to 525 different types of sodas,” he said. “We have thousands of unique and nostalgic candies from all over the U.S. and from other countries.”
Because many of the old-time sodas can only be found in a store like his or online, he has customers who come in looking for their favorites. Like Cheerwine soft drink.
“I have a lady from North Carolina, where the soda was originally made, come here to buy it for cupcakes she makes with it,” he said.
Do a quick search online and sure enough, a string of blogs will pop up with Cheerwine Cupcake recipes from Southern writers. The recipe is simple and delicious, and might just be the ticket for a Halloween dessert.
Details: 5166 N. Nevada Ave. (University Village Colorado shopping center), 323-6714, tinyurl.com/yd69qtyr, 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays and Tuesdays; 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays; 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays.
Spencer’s Candy Basement
Alice Spencer Robinson’s family has operated Spencer’s Produce, Lawn & Garden Centers since 1934. The Candy Basement became the go-to for all things sweet in the mid-’40s. It was originally open from Thanksgiving until Christmas Eve. In 1984 it became a year-round place for shopping.
Alice is head product selector and marketing maven for the unique hidden treasure. You’ll find old-fashioned candies, “unusual” candy creations, Colorado jams, jellies, honey, baking mixes and spices, nuts and dried fruit. It’s the perfect place to stock up on fun Halloween treats for any taste.
Details: 1430 S. Tejon St., 632-2788, spencersgardens.com, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays.
Still hungry? Here are a few other candy shops:
– Patsy’s Candies: 1540 S. 21st St., 633-7215, tinyurl.com/ybxrf7h2, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturdays.
– Pikes Peak Chocolate and Ice Cream: 805 Manitou Ave., Manitou Springs, 685-9600, pikespeakchocolate.com, 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays; 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays through Sundays.
– Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory: 2431 W. Colorado Ave., 635-4131, tinyurl.com/y9krotgz, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays.