A Sweet Trip Down Memory Lane at New Petaluma Candy Store

There are plenty of places to buy unique candy in Sonoma County, including one that might take you right back to childhood.

Homemade chocolate dipped marshmallows at Cravin’s Candy Emporium in Petaluma. (Beth Schlanker/The Press Democrat)

If the anticipation of Halloween has you salivating for sweets, like those you hoarded years ago as a young trick-or-treater, there are plenty of places to buy unique candy in Sonoma County, including one that might take you right back to childhood.

Cravin’s Candy Emporium opened in downtown Petaluma in July, and the family-owned neighborhood candy store knows how to bring out the kid in its customers — no matter their age.

Walking into the candy store is like traveling back in time. Vintage posters and signs decorate the walls, along with game boards from the kiddie classic, Candy Land, with some of the editions dating back to 1955. Retro metal lunchboxes sit on high shelves. Hypnotizing round rainbow lollipops reach for the sky, and the movie “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory” — the 1971 Gene Wilder version, of course — plays on a big-screen TV.

“It’s easy to leave your troubles behind when you are surrounded by candy,” said Debbie Giordano, who owns Cravin’s Candy Emporium with her husband, Joe.

Jawbreakers for sale at Cravin's Candy Emporium in Petaluma, Calif., on Thursday, October 21, 2021.(Beth Schlanker/The Press Democrat)
Jawbreakers at Cravin’s Candy Emporium in Petaluma. (Beth Schlanker/The Press Democrat)
A variety of chocolate bars for sale at Cravin's Candy Emporium in Petaluma, Calif., on Thursday, October 21, 2021.(Beth Schlanker/The Press Democrat)
A variety of chocolate bars at Cravin’s Candy Emporium. (Beth Schlanker/The Press Democrat)

Retro candy

Cravin’s Candy Emporium carries more than 4,000 kinds of goodies; no doubt, you’ll stumble on at least one long-lost childhood favorite. Here you can find Pop Rocks, Candy Buttons, Ring Pops, Cow Tales, Zotz and speckled Jawbreakers the size of your fist. In fact, it’s hard to take more than a few steps without exclaiming, “I remember that!”

The Petaluma candy store pays homage to the original Powell’s Sweet Shoppe in Windsor, which opened in 2003. After owner Michael Powell franchised his business in 2006, the Giordanos moved their young family from Santa Rosa to Boise, Idaho, to open their own Powell’s candy store. They later re-branded their store Cravin’s Candy Emporium and when an opportunity arose to open a second location in Petaluma, the Giordanos jumped on it. They now split their time between Idaho and Sonoma County. (The Giordanos have licensed the Cravin’s name; there is an independently operated Cravin’s Candy Emporium in Windsor, in the former Powell’s Sweet Shoppe location, and another in Bend, Oregon.)

Like the original Powell’s, Cravin’s in Petaluma has a dedicated movie area with wooden theater-style seats for watching “Willy Wonka.” Kids and kids-at-heart are encouraged to spend some time enjoying the film here.

“This is not just a jelly bean store,” Joe Giordano said. “It is about time. … It’s (about) having something in common, where a family can be together.”

Sweet memories

In addition to old-fashioned sweets and “Willy Wonka,” Cravin’s Candy Emporium stocks other nostalgia-inducing items. Remember Lite-Brite? You’ll find the backlit light box toy here, along with classic pick-up-sticks, although you might need to do a quick internet search to remember how to play the game.

If you can’t find that favorite sugar-laced candy of your youth, the Giordanos will put it on their special requests list. Surrounded by candies of all stripes, even Joe Giordano misses some treats, like the discontinued Wonka chocolate bar. But many previously extinct old-school candies, like Astro Pops and Wacky Wafers, have made a comeback in recent years and have returned to candy store shelves.

At the front of the store, you’ll find an ice cream case with two dozen flavors of gelato and a cooler stocked with a rainbow of soda in glass bottles. But the best place for chocolate lovers is toward the back of the store, where the giant peanut butter cups handcrafted by Debbie Giordano are kept. She also makes chocolate-covered pretzels and chocolate-covered honeycomb, English toffee, pecan turtles and marshmallow pops.

“The dream is real,” Debbie Giordano said. “Owning your own candy store is fun and amazing, and actually very fulfilling when you see people having a great time together.”

Candy at Stockhome restaurant. Photo: Elise Aileen Photography.
Swedish candy at Stockhome restaurant in Petaluma. (Elise Aileen Photography)

Candy from around the world

You’re never too old to dress up for Halloween, but trick-or-treating after a certain age or raiding your kid’s bag of sweets is a faux pas. So what’s a grown-up with a sweet tooth to do on Halloween? In addition to taking a sweet trip down memory lane, check out these Sonoma County restaurants and stores for candy from around the world:

Dulceria Las Tapatias (1630 Sebastopol Road, Santa Rosa) and Dulceria Pepito (2101 W. College Ave., Santa Rosa) have Mexican treats like cocadas (colorful candy made from coconuts), mazapan (a sweet, dry, peanut butter candy) and camote (a traditional candy from the state of Puebla made from sweet potatoes).

Candy fish at Stockhome restaurant. Photo courtesy of www.newrevmedia.com
Swedish fish at Stockhome restaurant in Petaluma. (Courtesy of newrevmedia.com)
Italian torrone, a soft nougat candy made with almonds, is available at Canevari’s Delicatessen in Santa Rosa. (Shutterstock)

Stockhome restaurant (220 Western Ave., Petaluma) carries more than a dozen types of Swedish sweets or lördagsgodis (Saturday candy) in old-school glass jars, including fruit-flavored Dala Horse Gummy Candy.

For Italian sweets, look in Canevari’s Delicatessen (695 Lewis Road, Santa Rosa). They have torrone, a traditional soft nougat candy made with almonds.

The Chocolate Cow (452 First St. E., Sonoma) sells Kookaburra Licorice from Australia, and at nearby Tiddle E. Winks Vintage 5 & Dime (115 E. Napa St., Sonoma), you can traverse the sugary globe. Choose from Hermann the German Bavarian Hard Candy (in a variety of fruit flavors), Violet Crumble chocolate bars from Australia, British Maltesers milk chocolate confectionery and other foreign sweet treats.