Glass jars filled with rock candy in pink, mint green and yellow. Baskets overflowing with saltwater taffy. Glass cases loaded with hand-dipped chocolates.
I stopped by LaKing’s Confectionery and Ice Cream Parlour during a whirlwind trip to Galveston this weekend and walked out with a road trip’s worth of chocolate-covered raisins and espresso beans.
The shop, located in a historic building on The Strand, looks like the candy store your grandparents frequented when they were little.
According to the LaKing’s website, Jimmy King began making candy in Houston in 1927. His son Jack moved to Galveston to open a recreation of an old-fashioned candy shop and soda fountain in 1976. The shop still uses original, old-time equipment to make its candy, which might also explain why instead of catching a live taffy-making demonstration demo, I watched a man wielding a screwdriver tinker with what looked like a creaky, miniature stretching rack. (Time your visit right, though, and you’ll get to watch the candy maker spin up glistening waves of taffy – and toss samples at the crowd.)
The shop uses vintage equipment to make more than 50 types of candy from old-time recipes and also sells an array of more modern sweets, like gummy bears and, well, a pocket-sized treat shaped like a pet rat that, presumably, just makes you want to bite it. Traditionalists will like the peanut brittle, fudge, and pralines. There are jellybeans and rainbow-colored sticks of hardened sugar that looked like candy corndogs.
Belly up to the marble counter at the soda fountain for a scoop of Purity ice cream – the oldest ice cream manufactured in Texas – that’s made on the premises. Flavors include traditional strawberry, vanilla, and chocolate, plus more adventurous ones like New York cheesecake, cinnamon, banana walnut and coffee bean flake. You can order a root beer float, banana split, hot fudge sundae or traditional malt, too.
And don’t leave without venturing to the way back, where the kids can climb aboard a coin-operated pony or spaceship like the ones once found inside grocery stores. Up front, you can drop a penny into a machine that will stretch it out and stamp a design on the back.
LaKing’s is located at 2323 Strand Street in Galveston. It’s open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; until 9 p.m. Friday and 9:30 p.m. Saturday. For more information go to lakingsconfectionery.com.