Thursday, September 1, 2011

Williams Candy Shoppe

One bit of authenticity that still exists at Coney Island, that hasn't yet been destroyed by Thor, Zamperla, and Bloomberg, that won't soon be replaced by a suburban mall pretzel kiosk or an up-market sports pub designed to murder the human soul, is the Williams Candy Shoppe.



For about 75 years it's been going strong and now it's the last old-fashioned candy shop in Coney Island.

It got that distinction when Philip's Candy Shop was shuttered by the city in 2001 after 70 years of business. Philip's was the first thing you saw as you exited the subway at Stillwell and emerged to Coney, passing windows full of frozen chocolate-covered bananas and giant lollipops. It was a thrill, a kind of visual and olfactory appetizer for what was to come. Now, if I recall correctly (but who'd bother to remember?), the first thing you see is a Dunkin Donuts.


Philip's Candy Shop

The Williams Candy Shoppe is not so centrally located. It's sort of tucked away, on the far side of Nathan's. Maybe Bloomberg and his henchmen haven't noticed it?



We know what's coming--more of the same ugliness, the same architecture of death. Everybody wants their bite of Coney Island.



But until that day comes, stop in at Williams Candy Shoppe. Quite simply, it's beautiful. You don't see things like this anymore--the visual delight of candy apples and coconut-covered marshmallows, of spiral lollipops and radioactive-orange Circus Peanuts all tumbled together--and you never know when you'll be seeing it for the last time.

Listen to the candy shop's owner tell his story here.


13 comments:

JAZ said...

Jeremiah - please take a look at Page 11 of the Post today - Brownfield Auto Service, a family auto repair shop opened in 1920 at W29 bet. 10th & 11th is being driven out by the High Line. The guy's grandpa started the shop to do the leaf springs on the carriages that the horses would pull.

Real NYC history and tradition be damned - it's suburb time in The Big Cupcake!

Jeremiah Moss said...

thanks JAZ. Grieve just sent me that link. we knew this was coming. they will all be gone within a year.

ShatteredMonocle said...

Eventually candy will be illegal and this will be replaced with some restaurant that serves this:

http://nymag.com/news/features/placenta-2011-8/

Jeremiah Moss said...

best quote ever:

“When I was pregnant, I just craved organs,” says Beckham, a onetime vegan and raw-foodist who now eats grass-fed and organic meat. “I’d go to Diner [the Williamsburg restaurant] and order beef hearts, marrow … so the placenta just made sense.

“After I gave birth, I threw a chunk of placenta in the Vitamix with coconut water and a banana,” she adds. “It gave me the wildest rush. You know the feeling of drinking green juice on an empty stomach? It’s like that, but much more intense. It was definitely physical.”

Danielle Bennignus said...

First of all, the final quote about afterbirth consumption... it's hilarious, and all-too reflective of the current trend towards this practice. You'd be amazed at how popular this is among the self-involved segment of our society - I've honestly seen a photo or two online, of disturbingly crimson smoothies that contain, you guessed it, afterbirth. Somehow, the "architecture of death" concept fits in quite well with this practice...

Anyhow, Williams is truly a Coney Island treasure - its rich, sweet offerings remind me of Philips' late presence in the Terminal. And while I have visited their Staten Island spot many times, nothing compares to homemade candies on the boardwalk - fried shrimp in one hand, a coconut pattie in the other. I just hope that the endless rezoning, and cultural rape and pillaging of Coney doesn't touch Williams - at least not for some time.

Thanks again for your great blog, Jeremiah - and for your recent Coney Island posts. Although I'm now some states away from NYC and mourn these personal losses from afar, it's helpful to see what's left, and what's lost - as well as visual mementos of the Coney Island experience. Keep 'em coming.

Anonymous said...

Nice Candy Shoppe, but I wished they served better ice cream than Hersheys. I love ice cream, but I never found a good cone in Coney Island. Never tried the new Baskin Robbins.

Marty Wombacher said...

I've never been to Williams Candy Shoppe in all my visits to Coney Island and will check it out this Sunday. Thanks for the heads up, need to see it before it too vanishes with the rest of Coney Island.

RKChin said...

Philips Candy is alive and well.

The guy who owns Philips, John Dorman, moved his shop to 8 Barett Ave (in port richmond) Staten Island back in 2003. When I visited and asked him about the shop he told me he had been making candy continuously since 1947 making him the oldest candy maker in nyc. He makes all the old fashioned favorites like peanut brittle, chocolate fudge, caramel popcorn, etc. At the time he said he couldn't make salt water taffy because the machinery used to make it was "lost" (stolen) when he had to close up the coney island shop.

Unfortunately I haven't had time (all this time) to return back to his shop for an update, but do go visit them.

Melanie said...

As a child I used to eat those orange peanuts. Not so any more.

onemorefoldedsunset said...

Thanks Jeremiah. Beautiful.

JakeGould said...

Love WIlliam’s! And regarding the ice cream, if any of the artisanal ice cream places in NYC had a brain in their head they would cut a deal to sell their stuff here.

I know Jeremiah is a bit down on artisanal, but if just ONE of those places would do a menschy thing and sell something that would mix well with William’s it’s a win-win situation for all.

Outrider said...

More proof of the death of craftsmanship and the triumph of efficiency humans. They are in a real hurry to get this tiresome life thing over with and Dunkin Donuts and Placenta are just the thing to feed that rush.

Katrink said...

Ya gotta love that the Dunkin Donuts is located across the hall from the police station at the Stillwell Avenue station. Coincidence?
By the way, in one of the early classic seasons of SNL they aired an ad for "Placenta Helper". I remember it had Gilda Radner in it; don't recall who else. As always, they were waaayyy ahead of the curve.