Johnson Candy Company has been a fixture on Hilltop for over eighty years. The neighborhood has recently given birth to a number of fresh bars and restaurants (The 1111 and Hilltop Kitchen are especially worth taking note of) but the retro, neon sign standing tall over the confectionary remains the same.
I was first turned on to Johnson’s by the mention of hand-dipped ice cream bars. A square of vanilla ice cream is speared on a stick, and dipped in dark or milk chocolate before being rolled in almonds. And that’s it; there is no twist. No lime zest or chiles in the chocolate. No artisanal ice cream blended with exotic berries. No vanilla oil infused in the stick. It’s dead simple, and a very welcome throwback to familiar flavors. You can enjoy one of these ice cream bars outside in neighboring Peoples Park for about two dollars.
Johnson’s also boasts a huge array of handmade chocolates and other sweet treats. Everything from caramels to nut clusters to seafoam is on display; small bags of mixed chocolates are a great way to sample a little bit of everything. As with the ice cream, you won’t find any off-the-wall ingredients in these chocolates. You will find supremely creamy, tasty chocolates that, you might imagine, have been made that way since the store opened.
The store itself is somewhat cluttered, but every piece seems to evoke a story or memory. I spoke with a woman at the counter while arranging to ship some chocolates (they ship from the store, saving you a trip to the post office!) who added to the overall experience by recommending some of her favorite treats and telling a little of the store’s history. This kind of customer service and hospitality is a testament to the company’s long-standing history and reputation in the area.
I like Johnson Candy Company quite a bit. It’s refreshing to step into a candy store that specializes in classic, simple flavors. The prices are fantastic, and the charming atmosphere inside is very welcoming. If you haven’t visited Johnson Candy in a while, do yourself a favor and stop by for an ice cream.
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