A Lower East Side Institution Doling Out Sweets And Nostalgia Since 1937By Elle McLogan

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork)Economy Candy on Manhattan’s Lower East Side has been doling out sweets and nostalgia since 1937.

“It was actually a shoe and hat repair shop [with] a pushcart outside that sold some candy. But the recession came around. Candy started outselling shoes,” explained third-generation owner Mitchell Cohen.

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“When my grandfather Moishe and his brother-in-law returned from World War II, they took over the business. And it was a real family business. My dad and his sisters all worked in the store.”

“I have grandparents bringing their grandkids in and [saying], ‘I used to come here with my grandparents.’ It’s just nostalgia. When the people walk in the door, they’re like, ‘Whoa!’ They can’t believe [certain] things are still made.”

The shop’s inventory of over 2,000 items includes 99-cent candy bars alphabetized from Abba Zabba to Zagnut.

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“We have our imported section, where you can get Cadbury. You can get your European Mentos, Pocky, Japanese green tea KitKats, Mexican candies.”

Is Cohen sick of candy yet?

“I’ll never be sick of candy,” he said, “You’ve got to be able to recommend it, so you’ve got to try everything. I’m almost all the way through all 2,000 things.”

Also available are unusual novelties such as bacon mints, pickle candy, and wasabi candy.

“It’s disgusting, but it’s fun,” he said.

Over the decades, as the neighborhood’s mom-and-pop shops were shuttered and replaced with bars, restaurants, and hotels, Economy Candy has stuck around.

The shop’s secret to survival?

“Treating people right,” Cohen said. “Candy makes people happy. A little piece of candy can go a long way.”

Economy Candy
108 Rivington Street
New York, NY 10002
(212) 254-1531

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Elle McLogan