I don’t know about you but I seem to have outgrown the candy emporiums of my youth — where color-coded M&Ms graced the walls, waiting to be dispensed into a plastic bag for my movie-snacking pleasure. But what I haven’t outgrown is really good candy. And that’s where gourmet candy curators and founders of Sugarfina, Rosie O’Neill and Josh Resnick, found their sweet spot.
Recently engaged, Rosie and Josh met on Match.com four years ago and dreamed up the idea for Sugarfina, a gourmet candy haven for grown-ups, after watching Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory on their third date. A combination of marketing savvy (she used to be a marketing director for Barbie) and entrepreneurial success (Josh sold the now-defunct Pandemic Studios, a video-game design firm, to Electronic Arts in a deal valued at $860 million), they had great potential for success.
Sugarfina launched in August 2012 online, and just this weekend, these lovebirds opened the first-ever Sugarfina candy boutique for grown-ups in Beverly Hills. I stopped by during their fourth hour of operation, got a tour from Rosie and sampled as much candy as I could. (Tough job, I know.) Here are the highlights:
Called the Tiffany & Co. of candy stores by Eater LA, the Sugarfina boutique features bright white walls, Tiffany blue accents and tons of gourmet candy on display. Similar to Tiffany’s signature blue box, Sugarfina’s blue Bento Boxes, inspired by traditional Japanese lunchboxes, are packaging heavyweights. You can customize your own or choose from an array of pre-curated selections. Instead of fill-em-up plastic bags, candy comes pre-portioned in small bags, acrylic boxes or fun, whimsical gift sets. (Take these Martini Olive Almonds, for example.) The clincher? Forty percent of products can’t be found anywhere else in the United States. Rosie and Josh actually travel the world to find them and bring them back for our tasting pleasure. (What was I saying about a tough job?)
My tour started in the sequestered Candy Concierge lounge, partially adorned with Moët & Chandon champagne bottles, including a special crystal-adorned edition created for Sugarfina as a nod to its best-selling Brut and Rosé-flavored Champagne Bears. There, I sampled divine Pumpkin Pie Caramels, the famed bears themselves and Peach Sweet Heart gummies from Germany. With so many flavors to choose from, Sugarfina is a great believer in sampling. Yay for us.
Then I moved on to the Confetti Dolci, light-as-air sugar discs from Italy (at left) rumored to be a favorite of Italian royalty and composer Guiseppe Verdi. At $10 for a mini box, they weren’t cheap, but I’d spring for them just to make an impression. Beside them were hand-painted candies you’d have to see to believe, including a bronze chocolate typewriter, a vintage chocolate camera and colorful little Frosted Petticoats (chocolate buttons).
Perhaps my favorite experience was customizing a Bento Box. Rosie very patiently walked me through their wall of choices, from caramels (ding) to mints (ding) to sour gummies (ding). After much deliberation, I ended up choosing Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramels, Italian Lemon Fruttini gummies and All-Natural Holland Mints (think gourmet Junior Mints — Rosie’s favorite childhood candy — with a matte candy shell). I also picked up a small bag of Licorice Cubes, Rosie’s favorite adulthood candy, determined to overcome my usual distaste for licorice.
Overall, the experience was enlightening, and the overwhelming amount of choices made me want to go back for more. I already have a mental wish list forming (Matcha Green Tea Caramels, Absinthe Chocolate Cordials, etc.), and I’m totally inspired by this candy-nail polish gift idea. Oh, and in case the guilt of buying loads of high-end candy gets to you, rest easy; a portion of Sugarfina’s profits will go to Kiva and Lili Claire.
Now, I wonder who on Santa’s list is nice enough to get some gourmet candy this year …
Sugarfina is located at 9495 S. Santa Monica Blvd. in Beverly Hills, California, 1-855-SUGARFINA (855-784-2734).