(Written for Baristanet, Sept 21, 2009. Click on the title for the original post)

It all began in Northport, a little village on the North Shore of Long Island, when two sisters and their mom began a weekly tradition of walking to the local penny candy store, each child clutching a dollar in her fist, ready to stock up on whatever their hearts desired.

“We were raised in a way that we were never denied anything, although we were encouraged to eat healthily,” says Diana Tripoli, co-owner of Dulce (which hails from the Latin dulcis, meaning sweet), the candy store on Church St in Montclair that’s been open barely a month. “This was such a treat for us, a fun outing, a tangible reward that tasted great and we were also excited by the visual aspect of it.”

That passion for the sweet stuff continued into adulthood, so much so that the comely Diana and her sister Melissa, four years her junior, decided to recreate that piece of their childhood.

“A year ago, we had this idea of opening a quaint candy store like what we grew up around in Northport. We always liked Montclair and thought it was perfect – it’s pretty, full of families, it’s a walking town and there’s a unique shopping experience here,” said Diana.

They scoped out various possible locations for a store and waited for the right opportunity.

“We wanted a space that was the right size, not too big or small,” says Diana. “Then, we lucked out with this space and when it came up, we jumped on it.”

With a weakness for sweets and attractive visual arrangements, I was drawn by Dulce’s lime and aqua window display, with the triple vases of faux rock candy, well before it opened. With a few weeks of business under their (trim) belts, the Tripoli sisters said the response to their store, in the same building as Clearview’s Clairidge Cinema on Bloomfield Ave, has been nothing but positive.

Apart from a location that guarantees regular foot traffic, Dulce, which is decked out appealingly in a shade of retro teal, is a store that has something for everyone.

Said Melissa, radiant with a six-month baby bump, “We source our candy from different wholesalers and retailers across America, from Ohio, Long Island and California too, to get the best variety.”

Apart from the contemporary plain or filled chocolates, hard candy, lollipops and gummies, Dulce is chock-full of sugarfree, gluten-, dairy- and nut-free candy, and a whole ream of nostalgic sweets such as 5th Ave candy bars, Wax Lips, Gold Mine gum, Chick-O-StickMallo Cups, French Chew Taffy and Mary Janes.

My two sons, who don’t eat candy too often (due to their mom’s debilitating penchant for the stuff and temptation avoidance), are already fans, and my older son sent me along to Dulce with a request for almond-filled milk and dark chocolate. He wasn’t disappointed. Although I’ll have to drum up the courage to tell him I’ve finished the lot.
(Photos and slideshow/Bernadette Baum)


17 Church St,

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