Candy apples, pistachio marzipan, and handmade chocolates are a few of the sweet treats that are still made the old-fashioned way at historic candy stores across NYC. From Queens to Staten Island, we tracked down the oldest vintage candy stores. Whether they’ve been around for 30 or more than 100 years, these stores all have a unique old-school flair and some still take part in candy-making traditions that have been passed down for generations. Satisfy your sweet tooth at these old-fashioned candy stores in NYC!
1. Economy Candy, Manhattan
Economy Candy is New York City’s oldest candy store. The flagship store, located on the corner of Rivington and Essex on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, opened in a former shoe and hat repair storefront in 1937. The third generation of Cohens now run the store, a tradition that started when Morris (Moishe) Cohen took over the business with his brother-in-law during World War II. You can stop by the historic store on our upcoming Secrets of the Lower East Side Tour and Tasting!
Lower East Side Tour & Tasting
The shelves are stocked with more than 2,000 different types of candies from vintage favorites to new sugary treats. In February 2023, Economy Candy opened a new second location in Chelsea Market. While smaller than the Lower East Side shop, the Chelsea store is packed floor to ceiling with candy!
2. Myzel Chocolates, Manhattan
Myzel Chocolates was founded by the mother-daughter-duo of Kamila Myzel and her mother, Lucy. Kamila emigrated from Poland in 1981 and started the shop with her mother in 1990. Using her grandmother’s recipes, the pair created delectable chocolates and cookies at their shop on West 55th Street in Manhattan. After Lucy passed away in 2015, Kamila continued to run the sweet shop.
At the shop, seemingly endless rows of glass jars filled with colorful candies line the shelves behind the counter where display cases are packed with mouthwatering trays of chocolates. One of the many special features of Myzel’s shop is the selection of more than 130 different licorice flavors from around the world. The shop also creates festive gift baskets for holidays throughout the year. You can order from the store online or in the shop.
3. Mondel Chocolates, Manhattan
Mondel Chocolates has catered to college students and old Hollywood stars alike. Located near the Barnard College and Columbia University campuses at 2913 Broadway, the Morningside Heights store was opened in 1943 by Hungarian immigrant Carl Mondel and his wife, Elsie. The Mondels’ daughter Florence grew up working in the shop and retired around 2015.
For legendary actress Katherine Hepburn’s 90th birthday, the shop sent her a box of chocolates. A note taped up in the store on Hepburn’s stationery reads, “Thank you for the delicious chocolates — how very thoughtful — Ms. Hepburn was pleased.” After that initial taste, Hepburn regularly returned to the store for an order of pecan turtles, molasses chips, butter crunch, dark orange peel, champagne truffles, and dark almond bark, according to the New York Times. The “Hepburn Mix” as it came to be known is still a popular order.
4. Ray’s Candy Store, Manhattan
Ray’s Candy Store at 113 Avenue A in Alphabet City opened in 1974. The store and its owner, Iranian immigrant Ray Alvarez, have become beloved staples of the East Village community. Ray still mans the counter. Known for its egg creams, beignets, and fried Oreos, Ray’s Candy Store has maintained its old-school charm. The same original cash register is still in use at the shop, which is open 7 days a week,
On January 1, 2023, the shop celebrated Alvarez’s 90th birthday! A mural made possible by the LISA Project NYC and Peach Tao was unveiled outside 50 Avenue A in honor of Alvarez and the shop’s facade got a refresh as well. In November of 2022, employees launched a GoFundMe campaign to help fund the birthday festivities and to help support Ray in keeping the store open. The tiny shop has appeared on screen in films such as What About Me and Die Hard With a Vengeance, as well as the series finale of Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown.
5. Li-Lac Chocolates, Manhattan and Brooklyn
Li-Lac Chocaltes was founded in 1923 by Greek immigrant George Demetrious. Demetrious took the chocolate-making knowledge he learned in France and opened up a shop at 120 Christopher Street in Greenwich Village. In his shop, he made mouthwatering favorites like Almond Bark, Butter Crunch, Hazelnut Truffle Squares, and Legendary Fudge. After Demetrious died in 1972, the business was passed to a series of owners.
A second location opened in Grand Central Terminal in 1999. Due to rising rent costs, in 2005 the original Li-Lac location on Christopher Street was forced to close. Chocolate production moved to Industry City in Sunset Park Brooklyn. While the location was new, the chocolate-making methods remained the same. There are now multiple Li-Lac stores throughout Manhattan.
6. Schmidt’s Candy, Queens
Schmidt’s Candy opened in 1925 at 94-15 Jamaica Avenue below the elevated tracks of the Brooklyn Rapid Transit (BMT). Founder Frank Schmidt affectionately referred to as Grandpa Schmidt used old-world German recipes to craft delectable chocolates for his Queens customers in Woodhaven. The business was passed down through generations first to his son, then to his daughter-in-law, and today it is run by Frank’s granddaughter Margie.
While much of the neighborhood has changed, Schmidt’s Candy has stayed true to its old-world ways. Schmidt chocolates are still made on-site and by hand using the original copper kettle, marble tables, and even the original wooden drying racks. Few remaining chocolatiers in the city do so. You can grab some treats for yourself in the store or online through Schmidt’s website!
7. Aigner Chocolates, Queens
Another historic chocolatier in Queens is Aigner Chocolates on Metropolitan Avenue in Forest Hills. The shop was founded in 1930 and run by three generations of the Aigner family. In 2015, the Aigners passed the legacy of the shop to new owners, the husband and wife duo of Mark Libertini and Rachel Kellner.
Libertini and Kellner are carrying on the Aigner tradition of fine Austrian chocolates crafted on-site using Aigner family recipes. They use much of the same antique equipment and techniques that made Aigner a beloved confectionary shop, while still adding their own new twists on products and shop decor. Some of the sugary treats you can get from Aigner include Viena truffles, pistachio marzipan, non-pareils.
8. Philip’s Candy, Staten Island
Philip’s Candy is a Port Richmond, Staten Island institution, but it started in Brooklyn. The candy shop was originally located on the Coney Island boardwalk. Opened in 1916, the business moved to Surf Avenue in 1930. In 1947, 17-year-old John Dorman started working there. He would commute from his home on Staten Island. In the 1960s, Dorman bought the business and ran it with his partner until 2001. At that time, the building was demolished to make way for the Coney Island-Stillwell subway stop.
Not ready to give up the business just yet, Dorman re-opened Phillip’s Candy in Staten Island. Today, the 93-year-old Dorman still works at the shop, along with his daughter Maria Dorman. Their specialty is hand-dipped jelly apples!
9. JoMart, Brooklyn
Martin Rogak and his cousin Joe started JoMart Chocolates 1946 on Franklin Avenue in East Flatbush. Candy making was in the Rogak blood. Martin’s father sold penny candies in Brooklyn in the 1920s. After World War II, Martin wanted to go into a business that would spread joy and happiness.
In 1961 the store relocated to a shop on Avenue R in Madison, near Marine Park. It’s now run by “son of a son of a candymaker” Michael Rogak, Martin’s son. The chocolates are still made by hand on-site using equipment that is nearly 100 years old. There are even members of the staff who have been working there for decades.
10. Williams Candy, Brooklyn
Williams Candy is another historic Coney Island candy store. Located next to the world-famous Nathan’s Hot Dogs, Williams Candy opened more than 80 years ago. The windows of this shop are packed with fluffy cotton candy, candied apples smothered in sprinkles. and caramel marshmallow sticks. In addition to those sticky sweets, the shop also sells ice cream and Italian ices.
Next, check out 9 Old-Fashioned Soda Fountains in NYC