Holy cavities! Los Angeles is in the midst of a candy craze. Hot on the heels of September’s Dylan’s Candy Bar opening at the Grove, Sweet! Hollywood opened inside the Hollywood & Highland complex on Tuesday. The 30,000 square foot shop is part tourist attraction, part all-out candy extravaganza, and puts that New York transplant to shame. Tucked in an odd corner of the mega-mall, the place is visually stimulating to the point of overwhelming, and packed to the sugar-coated brim with candy and memorabilia. At a recent grand opening preview, our inner 8-year-old couldn’t get enough.
The shop is comprised of 12 themed “boutiques,” but the Wonka Inventing Room is the main draw. Sweet! scored the exclusive licensing rights to the Wonka brand, and the fictional chocolatier and his goodies are a motif throughout the shop. Upon entering, you are greeted by a case of fancy (they call them “artisan”) truffles inspired by Willy Wonka’s travels around the world. Authentic British phone booths display all the Gobstoppers, Sprees, and Nerds you could eat in a lifetime, and the story’s golden egg is recreated in chocolate and dusted with real gold specks. Department store-style window displays (designed by last-year’s Academy Award winner for best animated short) depict iconic scenes from Willy Wonka’s adventures.
Beyond Wonka, there’s a giant Crunch bar on the floor that makes crunching noises when you step on it, urinals (yes, urinals) that dispense sour powder in the Yucky!! Room devoted to gross-flavored candy, and the tasting machines that allow you to sample candies from Japan. You can play chocolatier and design your own bar complete with funky add-ins like pop rock and hot Cheeto’s, or you can watch an Australian candy sculptor print personalized designs on tiny hard candies. Successfully maneuver a gumball around a track suspended from the ceiling, and receive it through the back of a Ferrari. Oh my.