Part-candy shop, part-circus-themed spectacular, Big Top Candy Shop is jam-packed with more than 3,500 kaleidoscopic candies guaranteed to satiate any sweet tooth, please both traditionalists and novelty hunters, and evoke childhood memories.
Austin hit the confection jackpot when owner Brandon Hodge opened the sugary sweet wonderland on South Congress Avenue in October 2007. The shop has been doling out rare imported sweets, amusing treats, one-of-a-kind handmade confections, and a heaping helping of old-fashioned candies wrapped in nostalgia ever since.
Retro-inspired Big Top is as much a feast for your eyes as it is for your belly. Shelves, bins, and glass jars house the colorful bulk candies, wrapped treats, and handmade delectables like truffles and chocolate-covered honeycomb. The narrow space is anchored by an ice cream counter and antique soda fountain that also cranks out vivid sno cones. The shop’s red and yellow striped walls are peppered with vintage circus memorabilia, antique instruments, and black and white photos.
Securing its spot as the destination for hard-to-get popular imported sweets in Austin, Big Top’s offerings go far beyond Lindt truffles and Toblerone bars (though customers can find those, too). You’ll discover beloved British chocolates from Nestle, including Smarties, Loin, and Aero bars. Plus. there are Cadbury’s Crunchies (or opt for Violet Crumbles, the Australian version) and Flake bars (tip: pair with ice cream like the Brits do), among others. Japanese Pocky and European fan-favorite Kinder bars are aplenty, too.
Yearning to revisit familiar flavors from yesteryear? Big Top has you covered there too with Abba-Zappas (you’ll recognize its enduring yellow and black checkered wrapper), fizzy sour ZotZ, soft Cherry Mash, marshmallowy Moonpies, Astro Pops (yup, the iconic sucker is back after about two decades off the market), and so much more.
In addition to sales spikes based on seasonality (Christmas stocking stuffers, Easter basket staples, spooky Halloween novelties, pumpkin spice everything), the shop rides the waves of culinary trends, too. The popularity of sea salt caramels gave way to handmade chocolate-covered bacon, the shop’s current best seller. Flavored salt-water taffy in experimental flavors such as buttered popcorn and chicken and waffles is also increasingly sought-after, and Hodge reports a growing interest in spicy and savory flavors. like chile mango and Tabasco.
Sales have even reflected national pop culture events — the shop sold out of blue rock candy right before the series finale of Breaking Bad in 2013.
Sweet news for the future: Construction plans are in the works for early 2017 to expand the candy land on South Congress. Enlarging the sales floor by more than 200-square feet will allow for more offerings (classic bottled sodas and additional bulk candies for example), and shorter lines at the registers.