Not long ago when I took a little road trip to Tacoma to try and find the site of one of the original Mars factories (nerdy but true), my friend Reina (also one of the owners of Hello, Cupcake) introduced me to a gem of a candy shop: Johnson Candy Company.
Now, I was absolutely thrilled with this old-fashioned candy shop. It was old-school, but not in a put-on, contrived nostalgia sort of way: more like because they've been doing this candy thing the same way for, like, ever.
Of course, being so-old school, they don't even have a website. But I was able to learn a bit of their backstory from South Sound Magazine:
This long-time Tacoma favorite has been creating candy for local sugar seekers since 1925. The business was started by Russell Johnson, who ran a soda fountain lunch spot in the Hilltop neighborhood and bought some candy items. Well, the candy was popular so he decided he’d learn how to make it. Eventually he ditched the lunch gig and started making candy full time when he opened Johnson Candy Company, according to his son, Ron. During WWII, the elder Johnson hired another candy maker who brought with him more recipes. Ron purchased the business in the 1970s and now his son, Bill, is the third-generation lead candy maker turning out favorites such as caramel pecan turtles and homemade caramel dipped in chocolate and sprinkled with salt. “People keep coming back for more of those,” Ron said. Sweet, salty and addicting. Don’t miss out on their boxes of Valentine’s Day chocolates.
...and if you're seeking classic confections such as cordials, homemade candies, or even bubblegum balls decorated like zoo animals (pictured top), they're a great spot, but honestly it's worth a visit alone just to walk in and absorb what feels like a very sweet history of candy-making.
Johnson Candy Company, 924 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Tacoma, 253.272.8504