My boyfriend's favorite tale from his childhood involves a candy pantry. I've probably heard the story a million times about how a kid in his class had "A pantry! Just for candy!"
Quin, Jami Curl's new candy shop, is what I imagine The Elusive Candy Pantry to be like, since the shop is essentially one wall of glossy bags of homemade candies in a tiny, bite-sized space.
Curl's store is the first open business in the emerging Union Way, an alley soon home to artsy gift shops, the second location of Little T American Baker, and a few clothing outposts as well. Curl, who also owns Saint Cupcake, has always had a love affair with sugar: "You know how kids are obsessed with sweets—cookies, candies, etc.? I just never grew out of that phase. Like ever," said Curl. In college, Curl sold baked goods to her professors and other students at Ohio University, but it wasn't until she lived in Portland that she left her office job to pursue her sweet dreams.
"It's kind of like Toy Story. Kids love it, but there's stuff in there for adults, too." Candy styles range from Coffee, Orange, and Smoked Salt Caramels ($8 & $16) to Marshmallow By The Foot ($4) in chocolate, vanilla bean, strawberry and more. Many of the sweets are touched with local Portland favorites. For example, caramels ($8 & $16) are adorned with Jacobsen Sea Salt, others are infused with Wood Block Chocolate and Smith Tea flavors, and some are embedded with local hazelnuts.
The emphasis at Quin is less on chocolate (though they do have many bean-to-bar options from around the United States) and more on candy. The majority of Quin's wall of candy is home to lollipops, sour supreme hard candies, caramels, gum drops, and the Starburst-like Dreams Come Chew ($10). Most of the creations use real fruits, which is first roasted to capture sweetness.
But Curl is quick to steer customers from the idea that it's health food: "I mean, it's still candy, after all."
Prices $4-$16, no cash accepted.
About the author: Kat Vetrano currently lives in Portland, Oregon where she's eating her way through food carts, farmers markets and pho joints. Follow her on Twitter @kat707