The Corner Candy Store: Penny Candy

The Corner Candy Store

Part I: Penny Candy

I lived next to the “corner store,” an institution among the Jewish and other ethnic neighborhoods in metropolitan New York.  Esther and Isaac of wrinkled brow and stooped shoulders worked six days a week, morning to night, spelling each other for meals and necessary breaks. They kept vigilance against the rascal who tried to pilfer a Three Musketeers Bar or a package of Hostess Twinkies. “Eh, Eh, Get out from here, you little shvants!”

My child’s mind yearned for the fabulous delicacies in Isaac’s store, the ones arrayed behind the glass case, safely protected from grubby hands, the myriad of penny candies.  We bit off the necks of wax coke bottles and spit them far into the air to suck the oozy sweetness from the bottle. After that it was good for a chew and a final spit- out.

I  liked the two-inch wide strips of white paper about a yard long with four rows of pink, blue, yellow and green hard sugar dots. They suited my meticulous style.  I folded the paper back beneath the dot to release an edge and then finagled it off between my tongue and upper lip. I sucked until it disappeared, while planning to leave a design of colored dots on the paper to admire and save for last.  My impetuous friend Betty inevitably disturbed this plan after she scarfed her own dots and then peered hungrily at my pattern, forcing me to make a difficult choice.

Candy cigarettes with their red tips of fire were always fun.  Before smoking was taboo, it was cute to see little children imitating their parents.  Candy gumballs, sweet wax lips, Bazooka gum, wiggly worms, and wax milk bottles had their draw as well.

Come back for more about Isaac and Esther’s candy store.


  1. I can see the place. In fact, I can smell it!

  2. Please keep me posted and add me to future writings, my Grandparents owbed a grocery/deli/candy store in Paterson, NJ so I totally relate to this, plus I visited all the famous candy shops alot, there are some things I can’t describle that I still wonder what they were, like the punch cards with the prizes,,,

    All the best,
    Ellen Kot Resnick

    • Thanks for reading. I have 3 more parts to this little memory that I’ll post weekly. Follow me on Facebook if you would!

  3. I can taste the dots, lips, and coke bottles. How did we grow up embibing all that sugar?
    Looking forward to the next entry.

  4. Wonderful writing! Brings back memories.

  5. Lovely story that brings back yummy memories.

  6. Terryann Sturiale

    I’m one of the lucky few whose grandmother actually owned a candy store for a short time in my young life. Thank you, Leslie, for allowing me to “visit” Grandma’s store, once again, through your wonderful imagery.

  7. What a great story. My parents owned the Trenton Ave Sweet Shoppe in Paterson, and I spent many an hour working side by side with them as a part time soda jerk, newspaper slider, shelf stocker and doing all the little chores that a family owned small business required. You have instantly turned the clock back 55-60 years for me. Great writing.

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