The new Dylan’s Candy Bar off Union Square Park is so over-the-top and objectionable to good taste that it ends up appealing to everyone.
The extremely successful endeavor of Ralph Lauren’s daughter, Dylan Lauren, the candy bar has been serving hyper Upper East Side school children and their exhausted nannies on 61st Street and Third Avenue since 2001 and has since expanded to five other stores around the country (the Union Square location is the sixth). This new location is smaller than its uptown cousin, and perhaps more selectively stocked, with unusual pieces like Astronaut Ice Cream Sandwiches and “Fruity Farts” (little bursts of flavor that are actually pretty good). These same products may very well be uptown as well, but the smaller location here allows them to stand out more instead of being overwhelmed by the crazy amount of options the uptown location has.
Not to say that the store is in any way tasteful, though that would hardly be the point of Dylan’s. The floor sparkles; Julie Andrews coos “A Spoonful of Sugar” over the speakers; a giant bunny grins menacingly in the corner; and an entire wall is devoted to Disney princess candy, Another wall offers “Nostalgia” candy, i.e. candy that isn’t made anymore (sometimes with good reason), and yet another wall displays candy from around the world.
The bright colors and happy music are delightful, for sure, but they also serve a very important purpose: To distract you from noticing that almost none of the things you are buying have a price clearly marked on it. The store workers are helpful and always willing to check a price tag for you, but no doubt the store is counting on the fact that most people won’t go through that hassle. Because how much could candy really cost?
To my surprise, I somehow managed to spend $17 on not very much candy: I bought some candy popcorn ($9) to give to my friend; a bag of Satellite Wafers, which are basically communion wafers with seeds in them (the wrapper specifies that they are “edible,” a claim I find debatable) for $5.49; and a small bag of bulk candy, which sells for $14.99/lb. For those prices, I could have bought up a small section of Duane Reade.
After Dylan’s, I popped into Barnes and Noble just around the corner on 17th street and lo and behold, they were selling some Dylan’s Candy bar products on the ground floor– with the prices clearly marked. Of course, buying candy there is hardly as much fun as it is in the flagship store, but at least you’ll know exactly how much you are spending before you hit the cashier’s counter. And in the end, it’s all the same high fructose corn syrup.