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Sponge candy

Sponge candy from Strawberry Island in Buffalo, New York.

What: Souvenir alert! Pop one of these bite-size chocolate treats into your mouth and you will be hooked. It’s chocolate on the outside—traditionally milk, dark, or orange chocolate—and crunchy crystalline sweetness on the inside (specifically, caramelized sugar, corn syrup, and/or molasses). Its light yet rigid texture is akin to a malt ball, with the chocolate providing smooth contrast, but the taste is richly, addictively sweet, and once consumed, the whole thing melts in your mouth. Sponge candy’s exact origins are murky, as similar candies go by different names (such as sea foam, sponge taffy, molasses puffs, honeycomb toffee) around the world, but one thing is clear: It’s big in Buffalo. And it’s a must.

Where: Sponge candy is going to be good everywhere—as long as it’s not so hot and humid that the interior honeycomb dehydrates and deflates, which sometimes happens in the summer. But the quality of chocolate can vary a bit. The photo above is from the Strawberry Island (multiple locations including Broadway Market, 999 Broadway, map); however, our very favorite sponge candy was from Fowler’s Chocolates (multiple locations, including 754 Elmwood Ave., map)—just the sight of its pink-striped box in our fridge back home made us very, very happy.

When: Fowler’s: Mon-Sat, 10am-10pm; Sun, noon-9pm. Strawberry Island (Broadway Market location): Mon-Sat, 8am-5pm.

Order: A small bag of sponge candy from Strawberry Island costs $5; a one-pound box from Fowler’s is $18.99 (milk or dark chocolate). The Strawberry Island vendor was kind enough to let us taste the three chocolate varieties; we liked milk chocolate best.

Alternatively: Lots of candy stores in town carry sponge candy, as does Wegmans. Try Parkside Candy (3208 Main St., map), Mike’s Homemade Candies (2110 Clinton St., map), or Watson’s Chocolates (multiple locations, including 738 Elmwood Ave., map).

Good to know: The historic Broadway Market is worth a visit in its own right, for perusing the eclectic goods on offer (from African clothing and Polish pottery to fresh horseradish and gag gifts) and sampling the hearty Polish food. Join the old-timers at the counter of Perison’s Restaurant (716-892-3661) in the back of the market for great, thick pierogi and more.


 

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