Halloween is coming up soon, which means Eugene J. Candy Co. is gearing up for its most popular season.
The Bushwick candy haven, which opened its doors back in March of 2016, has a Halloween aesthetic all year long (sort of like the beloved movie franchise Halloweentown), but, come October, the decorations and candies start really amping up.
Though Eugene J. Candy offers Halloween classics from a variety of brands—pumpkin-shaped treats, pumpkin spice malt balls and ghoulish candies made to look like missing or bloody body parts—what makes the shop really unique is the owner's commitment to making his own line of candies. Especially during October, J. finds himself arriving to work at 6am multiple days a week where he makes his own signature treats in a tiny lab hidden behind a purple curtain.
His handmade candies are available in the shop year-round, but for Halloween this year, he’s made a few new spooky additions. "Freaks," inspired by the Roald Dahl book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, are hard, Nerds-like candies that come in two colors: orange, which has an orange and peach flavor, and black, which comes in four flavors including Gothic Grape. He'll also be offering chocolate-coated corn flakes and Cheerios in rustic fall colors.
Though J. has had an obsession with making his own candies since childhood, his sweet skills remained a hobby for many years as he worked as a chemical engineer. “My ultimate goal with the shop is just to push fun. Coming from engineering, you can be creative, but with numbers and problem-solving. I wanted something a bit more,” he shares in an interview with Time Out New York. Quitting his job in engineering, he went to live in Berlin, where he started selling treats to a few local cafés and shops. He even posted up outside one of the world’s most exclusive clubs, Berghain, where he sold “Duet Lollipops” out of a briefcase to eager club goers waiting on the notoriously brutal line.
Following his stint in Europe, he took a severe pay cut to work at Dylan’s Candy Bar and eventually worked his way up to their corporate headquarters. But, ultimately, J. knew he was after something more DIY. “I knew I wanted to work in candy, but I didn’t know how to maneuver it. Starting my own factory, producing my own line, would take so much capital. I think of my shop as sort of this incubator for experimenting,” he says.
Other candy shops in New York may make their own chocolates (the East Village’s Lagusta’s Luscious, the historic Lower East Side favorite, Economy Candy and Coney Island’s Phillips Candy, to name a few), but J. is one of the rare few to make his own hard candies as well. It's clear J. is tirelessly creating something all his own.
We suggest stopping by the shop to prepare for trick or treaters, but you should also pencil in a trip post-Halloween. Eugene J. Candy Co. always has something special cooking up to satisfy any New Yorker's sweet tooth.
Eugene J. Candy Co. is located at 16 Wilson Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11237.