Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory gets a historical steam-punk transformation in Peekskill Central Market’s new Sweet Ascent candy shop (chocolate rivers not included). Decorative hot-air balloons wade through the clouds in one corner of the room, while a plane, clocks, gears, and hats with metal accents take the other. These whimsical-looking items belong to a mythical person named Peek, who travels around the world to collect candies and bring them back to the shop.
Some jars of candy at Sweet Ascent are labeled with the year they were released, some going back to the 1830s. Owner Frank Vasquez says he wanted more than just a store that sold candy; he wanted to create an “experience” for his clientele. “As a child, you love [candy] because it’s sweet,” says Vasquez, whose family owns both Kurzals Coffee and Peekskill Central Market. “As you grow older and mature, you start to notice the nostalgia and the history of it all.”
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While older patrons gravitate to their favorite candies from childhood, kids seem to be drawn to newer products, particularly anything sour. One such example is called Sour Flush, which come in a toilet-shaped container that holds a powdered dip in the bowl.
In this tucked-away treasure, the familiar concept of a candy store is reimagined into a new place of wonder. Vasquez says he is ready to take things a step further in his candy bonanza, by making some of his own hand-dipped, chocolate-covered treats.