Ever run into that issue where your sweet tooth acts up but you can’t decide whether to go to a candy store or an ice cream shop? Well, struggle no more, because we’ve put together a candy / ice cream shop guide that will solve all your problems. We present to you the Buffalo Candy & Ice Cream Shop Trail. Here in WNY we are blessed with some of the best candy, chocolate and ice cream, and what’s even better is that we have several shops that offer both. So indulge your sweet tooth, loosen your belt and keep reading!
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This trail is a chain of shops that sell candy/chocolate AND serve ice cream. While many of these shops are primarily candy shops, I will be mainly focusing on their ice cream. The trail is composed of 9 stops, but unlike the past where I visited each shop and ate there all on the same day, I decided to split the route in half so that I could enjoy more at each stop. The routes I chose were based both on making a coherent path as well as hitting each shop as they opened. Below are pictures of my route on Day 1 and then Day 2 (note stops 3 and 4 of Day 2, Watson’s and Fowler’s, are so close that they appear as one dot), followed by a snapshot of what the route would be if you decided to visit each shop on the same day (my stomach salutes you).
Stop #1 – Oliver’s Candies
211 W Main St, Batavia, NY 14020 / oliverscandies.com
Even though Oliver’s Candies isn’t technically located in Buffalo, it is an area staple and absolutely had to be included in this trail. Oliver’s Candies was founded in 1932 by Joseph Boyd Oliver who blanched peanuts and sold now-famous products like Cashew Glaze. The business was sold in 1960 and has been making fine chocolates and candies, using the same quality ingredients and skilled expertise ever since. Upon arriving at Oliver’s you’ll immediately see the unique architecture of the house, which has been remodeled over the years and turned into a chalet.
Inside the shop, there is a retro feel with retro malt shop-type music. I counted 22 flavors of ice cream ranging from Peanut Butter Cup to Mocha Almond Fudge, and several custard flavors as well. Oliver’s partners with the Buffalo ice cream favorite Anderson’s Custard to make their ice cream. Oliver’s sends their homemade chocolates and candies to Anderson’s to produce a match made in heaven. They also have a good selection of toppings including the awesome chocolates from the candy shop like malted milk balls (my favorite) and chocolate and peanut butter cote wafers. The ice cream shop is attached to the candy store and there are even tables set up in the candy store so that you can eat your ice cream while you admire all the fine candies. They also have a freezer full of to-go items such as cakes, pies and even wine-infused ice cream.
I ordered the new Peanut Butter Puppy Sundae, which as the sign notes, is not for dogs! The sundae is made with vanilla custard, a peanut butter crunch mix (aka Muddy Buddies), peanut butter sauce, chocolate sauce, whipped cream, and topped with a cherry and peanut butter cote wafer. I opted for hard ice cream instead of custard, and I chose the peanut butter sundae flavor, and boy was I glad I did. The ice cream seemed to have a vanilla base with peanut butter swirls, fudge swirls and peanut butter cups. The ice cream was definitely high quality, very thick and was loaded with peanut butter cups. The best way I can think to describe it is like Perry’s Panda Paws ice cream on steroids. It packs a heavy peanut better and fudge punch, that when combined with the sauces on the sundae, provide the ultimate peanut butter and fudge sundae experience. The Muddy Buddies, or puppy chow element of the sundae, also provide a nice texture and a great touch to the sundae. If you like a retro ice cream experience with homemade-quality ice cream and a candy shop to boot, you have to put Oliver’s on your list.
Stop #2 – Antoinette’s Sweets
5981 Transit Rd, Depew, NY 14043 / antoinettesbuffalo.com
With roots dating back to 1915, Antoinette’s Sweets is another WNY staple when it comes to candy, chocolates and ice cream. Although the location may have changed over the years, Antoinette’s still has an old-fashioned feel, from the atmosphere to their homemade products. When you walk into Antoinette’s you’ll notice the wooden booths and beams, the neon signs, and the long bar. Looking behind the bar you’ll notice the mixers, tin sundae dishes, and glass milkshake glasses, which all complete the look of a quintessential old-fashioned ice cream bar. The old-fashioned vibe continues when you pick up your order, which is served on a tray with napkins and a glass of water.
I ordered the Dusty Road Sundae, which comes with chocolate ice cream, marshmallow, whipped cream and is topped with malt. I’m not the biggest fan of chocolate ice cream so I opted to substitute it with the cookies and cream flavor. Perhaps what impressed me the most was the homemade quality of all the ingredients involved. I watched as my sundae was being made and I couldn’t help but notice the fresh marshmallow being scooped onto my sundae, which was then followed by fresh whipped cream being scooped into a piping bag and then piped onto the sundae. If you think homemade quality is overrated, Antoinette’s wi
ll change your mind. Upon digging into my sundae I immediately noticed the thickness and quality of both the whipped cream and marshmallow. Never before had I ever had marshmallow topping with such a strong and accurate marshmallow taste. The thick marshmallow combined with the dusting of malt powder made me feel like I was eating a giant marshmallow Peep bunny! There’s never a bad time of year to eat a Peep right? As for the ice cream, the cookies and cream had lots of cookie chunks, which is just what you ask for in such a flavor.
Antoinette’s is probably best described as an even split between an ice cream parlor and a candy shop. The ice cream seating is plenty big, but the candy side of the shop is equally large and filled with something for everyone. They even have vegan chocolate bars if that’s what you’re into.
At Antoinette’s it’s all about quality homemade ingredients. You won’t find them scooping anything out of a jar, or dumping anything out of a can. I’ve become a true believer in how homemade ingredients can really make a difference in an ice cream sundae. So if you value the “homemade difference”, Antoinette’s is your place.
Stop #3 – King Condrell’s Candy & Ice Cream
2805 Delaware Ave, Kenmore, NY 14217 / condrells.com
In 1966 Nick Condrell converted a Delaware Ave butcher shop into a candy and ice cream shop named Condrell’s Candies and Ice Cream Parlor. Eventually in 1996, master chocolatier Rich King purchased the business and over the years through the integration of sweets and ice cream, King Condrell’s was born. After some remodeling and a grand reopening in 2017, the shop still sticks true to its classic candy shop and ice cream parlor roots. Inside you’ll notice the nostalgic ice cream posters and most definitely the long ice cream bar with the classic tin ice cream dishes.
When I think of King Condrell’s the first thing I think of is the massive menu full of limitless options. They regularly serve over 20 of their own homemade flavors and I was surprised to be presented with a menu that added an additional 12 seasonal flavors. They offer more than 70 sundaes; lots of frozen drinks; floats; you name it, they have it. They offer tons of toppings that include some of the chocolates and sweets they sell in the candy store, such as their sponge candy. The menu is even more endless than it first appears because they truly let you customize your order so that you can get exactly what you want. You are served at your table like an old school ice cream parlor, and the servers are very nice and attentive.
Ok back to the ice cream. King Condrell’s is also known for their massive sundaes, including the Kitchen Sink Sundae (16 scoops and nearly whatever you and your group wants), the Maximum Brain Freeze (an ice cream challenge that starts with 10 scoops and includes a lot of toppings), and their Super Bowls (5 scoops and loads of toppings). I tackled the Richie’s Chocolate Factory Sundae which consists of 5 scoops of ice cream, hot fudge, whipped cream and loads of candy bar pieces including Twix, Kit-Kat, M&Ms, Nestle Crunch and Snickers. I chose to get 3 scoops of the seasonal s’mores ice cream and 2 scoops of the cannoli ice cream. When I say loads of candy bar pieces, I mean loads. The ice cream itself is no slouch either. The s’mores ice cream was thick, smooth, and creamy and I even managed to notice the fudge in it amongst the hot fudge already on top of the sundae. I also thought the caramel in the candies was a great touch. If you want to try this sundae I hope you really like chocolate candy, because this beast will have you questioning your chocolate devotion as you finish eating. Considering their reasonable prices, you really get a nice bang for your buck with this sundae. So whether you’re a glutton for ice cream, love homemade chocolates or just appreciate a classic ice cream parlor experience, I recommend you give King Condrell’s a shot.
Stop #4 – Aléthea’s Chocolates
8301 Main St, Williamsville, NY 14221 / aletheas.com
Next up is Aléthea’s Chocolates, which has been a prominent Williamsville chocolate shop for over 65 years. Over that time, the recipes haven’t changed as ingredients like pure cocoa butter and cream are still the principle ingredients. The atmosphere inside is very much the same. When you enter the shop you’ll feel like you’re in the home of a millionaire who decided to sell chocolates and build an expansive ice cream parlor for lavish gatherings with their likewise wealthy friends. In all seriousness though, everything in Aléthea’s has an ornate, yet vintage appearance. As with past stops, you’ll notice the classic tin ice cream dishes accompanied by the glass milkshake glasses. The ice cream parlor is large with plenty of seating as well as a shaded outdoor patio with additional seating.
One of the unique elements of Aléthea’s ice cream parlor is their selection of over 12 homemade sauces, including their hot fudge truffle sauce and hot butterscotch sauce. They also offer 25 of their chocolate shop treats as possible sundae toppings. I decided to go with a simple waffle cone with chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream. I wouldn’t say the ice cream was necessarily special itself, but I’m sure would be great as part of a sundae with the homemade sauces. Before you leave you have to check out the chocolate shop, which is very impressive with chocolates lining each wall. A couple notes on the sponge candy while we’re talking about the chocolates: the pieces tend to be bigger because they are double-dipped in chocolate to preserve the integrity of the sponge, and you’ll find an “A” carved into the top of each piece to let you know that you’ve got some quality Aléthea’s sponge candy on your hands. If a fancier, yet quaint, setting and high quality chocolate are things that pique your interest, Aléthea’s is worth a stop.
Stop #5 – Platter’s Chocolates
908 Niagara Falls Blvd, North Tonawanda, NY 14120 / platterschocolates.com
The next stop on our trail is the famous Wurlitzer building. Did I say Wurlitzer building? Yup. Although the Wurlitzer company is known for producing world class organs, pianos and eventually jukeboxes, it is actually now pumping out beautiful works of art in a much different sense. Construction on the building began in 1892 and ran until 1950, and was then followed by some remodeling over the years. What does this have to do with chocolate or ice cream? Just stick with me, I’m getting there. Going back in time yet again, this time stopping at 1938, we’ll find a man named Carl Platter producing a unique orange chocolate in his basement. Eventually the little business began to grow, prompting Platter and friends to rent the basement of the neighboring house and even build an underground tunnel between them! Eventually in 1972, Roger Urban would purchase the business and turn it into a true family affair with the help of his kids: Bruce, Joe and Sherry. Eventually the public began demanding more candies such as jellies, caramels, creams and sponge candy, which would all become great compliments to the company’s orange and milk chocolates. After many years of successful business, Platter’s moved into the Wurlitzer building in 2016, and the rest is history …… delicious chocolate and ice cream history that is!
You can relive this history by taking a tour of the Platter’s Chocolate Factory, during which you will of course see how they make some of their delicious products. Spoiler alert: it’s all by hand! No automated machines ere folks. Just lots of passion and dedication. In a tour you’ll see the Pouring Room (Sounds like something straight out of Willy Wonka, right?), which is where 100-pound blocks of chocolate are smashed, broken down, mixed and poured into the various molds. You’ll even hear about the secret orange serum, which is so potent that it only requires a “nip” to flavor an entire vat of chocolate. You’ll then make your way to the “Candy Room”, which is where things like Platter’s marshmallow, toffee, caramel, and of course, sponge, is produced among other delicious concoctions. The sponge is hand-stirred with a very long wooden spoon, sits overnight and is then hand-trimmed, which means you are only getting the prime cuts of the sponge (the filet mignon of candy if you will). The sponge is then coated twice, because everybody knows there is no such thing as too much chocolate. You’ll also come across the “Enrobing Room”, which is where sweets such as Oreo cookies, pretzels, potato chips, Rice Krispies Treats and more are coated in chocolate after running down long tables. Just visualize that iconic scene from I Love Lucy where Lucy and Ethel are working in the chocolate factory. Fun fact coming! Legend tells of that very redhead working for Betty Dixon Candies, which was actually purchased by Platter’s in 1992!
Ok, I won’t spoil the tour for you anymore, so onto the ice cream. In addition to the multitude of chocolates, Platter’s now has an ice cream shop and cafe with several large seating areas complete with very comfortable furniture and TVs. In the ice cream shop they serve good ‘ol Perry’s ice cream, but with a couple unique Platter’s touches. I opted to just try the Perry’s Candy Bar ice cream myself, which had a surprisingly good base that was chock full of nice chocolate chunks. My copilot went all out and got what we later deemed, “the Platter’s Special”. It was a sundae comprised of Platter’s orange chocolate custard, with Platter’s orange chocolate hot fudge and topped off with shavings of Platter’s orange chocolate. The business started with orange chocolate, so why not go all out and embrace it? Despite what you may be thinking, the orange chocolate flavor is not too overwhelming and is absolutely well worth a try. Over in the cafe we would also highly recommend the orange chocolate latte. That day in particular was warm so we got the latte iced, but it would also be the perfect drink for a cold Western New York Fall or Winter day.
Come for the one-of-a-kind chocolates and ice cream, but experience the tour and the family-oriented business while you’re there. You’ll be glad you did.
Stop #6 – Sweet Jenny’s
Address: 56 E. Spring St, Williamsville, NY 14221 / sweetjennyswilliamsville.com
Continuing the trend of unique locations, Sweet Jenny’s is up next. Located on a little one-way street just off Main St in Williamsville, you can’t miss Sweet Jenny’s. That’s because Sweet Jenny’s calls the historic 1811 Williamsville Water Mill home. While the mill may not have been built with the intention of producing ice cream, owners Howard and Tara Cadmus have converted the mill into a one-of-a-kind destination for lovers of all things sweet. Sweet Jenny’s has been making its own homemade ice cream since 1985, which is now produced right inside the mill. Even cooler is the mill’s viewing window that allows you to watch the ice cream being made as you enter the shop. After you pass the viewing window and enter the main room, you’ll be greeted by a long case full of artfully-crafted chocolates including their French silks that will just melt in your mouth. Sweet Jenny’s also has a large selection of chocolate covered treats like Oreos and Rice Krispies; retro candies; and of course sponge candy. That’s still not all the mill has to offer though. If you go upstairs you’ll enter 1811 Comics which is full of comics, toys and an arcade.
Back downstairs where the ice cream is, you’ll find a large board full of a variety of homemade flavors. From staples like orange chocolate and coffee to unique flavors like Smurf and Elvis, you’re sure to find a flavor you’ll love among the more than 40 available options. They also make some delicious vegan ice cream (in flavors like orange chocolate and cookies and cream), sorbet, soft serve custard, low-fat yogurt and even fat-free no-sugar-added ice cream.
This time I decided to make a custom sundae and ordered the birthday cake ice cream topped with hot fudge and Oreos. The ice cream had a rich yellow cake flavor and you could even see the sprinkles and swirls of icing throughout. If you’re short on time or just want to take some of the deliciousness home with you, have no fear, because they have a freezer full of to-go options. There’s plenty of pints, quarts, ice cream cakes, ice cream pies, and ice cream sandwiches (including sandwiches made with gluten free chocolate chip cookies). I couldn’t resist snagging an ice cream sandwich made with Oreo cookie wafers and peanut butter ice cream. The sandwich was even better than I expected, as the Oreo cookies were soft and the peanut butter ice cream had a scarily accurate flavor; so much so that it tasted like peanut butter straight out of the jar, but a little sweeter.
From the comic book store to the litany of sweets and ice cream treats offered, Sweet Jenny’s is a very kid-friendly stop. There is outdoor seating as well as indoor seating in a scenic room in the mill with a rustic stove for ambience. Adults will appreciate the historic element of the mill while everyone young and old will appreciate the delicious homemade chocolates and ice cream offered at Sweet Jenny’s.
Stop #7 – Watson’s Chocolates
738 Elmwood Ave, Buffalo, NY 14222 / watsonschocolates.com
Back in 1946, brothers John and Louis Watson began producing homemade chocolates in the backroom of their soda fountain and luncheonette with the help of their wives. In 1987, Lou’s son Jim joined the team and took over the chocolate aspect of the business, which was further expanded in 1993 when Jim’s daughter Whitney added to the product line and opened more retail stores, bringing the total to eight. Even though they have been in business for over 70 years, their commitment to quality and principled chocolate production practices haven’t changed. Watson’s uses only Fair Trade Certified cocoa in all their chocolate products and all their chocolates are made by hand in small batches to ensure the highest quality possible.
This goes double for their famous sponge candy. When you’re in their shop you may notice the #BuffalosBest SpongeCandy mugs, which isn’t just an unfounded claim by the company, because they were in fact voted Buffalo’s best sponge candy in a 2017 WIVB News poll. Their sponge candy is so in-demand that they produce over 35 tons of it annually and sell it online year-round. Gluten free and available in milk, dark and orange chocolate, there is sure to be a sponge candy to fit anyone’s taste.
Even better (in my opinion) is Watson’s milk chocolate sponge candy ice cream, which is an absolute necessity for any respectable ice cream connoisseur. Normally when an ice cream has caramel in it, the caramel is frozen in ribbons or simply mixed throughout the ice cream. Watson’s sponge candy ice cream however, is loaded with lots of runny gooey caramel that would make you think somebody had just doused your ice cream with caramel topping. I don’t know how they do it, but it is pure ice cream wizardry. Not only did this flavor have the awesome caramel, but don’t forget about the delicious homemade sponge candy which was abundant in absolutely large chunks that could make the ice cream great on its own. This is instantly one of my top-5 ice creams without a doubt. I also tried their Watson’s Elmwood Strip (appropriately named for this Elmwood Ave location), which is also worth a try. This flavor had a coffee base with a good flavor that wasn’t too strong and had chunks of their Elmwood Strip bars. This bar is named after the trendy Elmwood Ave area and is a buttery toffee joined by ground espresso beans and covered in creamy chocolate. This bar has become a favorite and it’s easy to see why. Watson’s is another chocolate shop that partners with the area favorite Anderson’s Custard, so you know you’re getting a quality ice cream when you try anything here.
I highly recommend taking the time to step into Watson’s cozy Elmwood shop, only to step right back outside to eat some of their delicious ice cream on a bench as you enjoy the vibrant Elmwood neighborhood. Once you’re done eating your treats, take a couple steps down the street to ……
Stop #8 – Fowler’s Chocolates
746 Elmwood Ave, Buffalo, NY 14222 / fowlerschocolates.com
Fowler’s Chocolates is another of the Buffalo chocolate giants. It’s one of the first names to come up when you think of area chocolates, and that’s no fluke. Fowler’s roots go all the way back to 1901 when Joseph Fowler traveled to Buffalo, NY to attend the Pan American Exposition and sold his chocolates and sweets. A little encouragement then led to a small chocolate shop in Buffalo, and over 100 years later Fowler’s has become a Buffalo favorite with 7 retail locations and online sales that ship to locations all around the country. Even today, Fowler’s has continued its tradition of making delicious chocolates the right way. The chocolate that Fowler’s purchases consists of up to 60% cacao solids, which results in a finer quality end product that most other chocolatiers can’t claim. Fowler’s is also a member of the ICI (International Cocoa Initiative) whose work protects the cocoa farmers by developing programs that foster sustainability and address the wellbeing of laborers, including children. All of this is part of Fowler’s commitment to its practices and production of a finer end product.
Fowler’s chocolate shop on Elmwood is appropriately located, because it is a trendy little shop in an area full of such shops. You won’t confuse this shop with any other shop though, because it has a truly unique interior. Inside the shop you will immediately notice the color pink ….. lots of pink. This popping color along with the old school music from the likes of Frank Sinatra gives the shop a laid back feel. It feels like what an old school New York City chocolate shop might feel like.
Continuing to the back of the shop, you’ll find the ice cream counter. Fowler’s carries several flavors of Perry’s Ice Cream and even gelato made by Sweet Jenny’s (yes that Sweet Jenny’s from earlier in the trip). I’m ashamed to say that I had never had gelato before, so I jumped on the opportunity to change that. I ordered the s’mores gelato, which was a truly delightful treat. This gelato was loaded (and I mean loaded) with massive chocolate covered graham crackers and big marshmallow chunks. Every bite was full of s’mores flavor because there was a representation of chocolate, graham and marshmallow in every bite. The gelato base was of course thick and creamy as gelato tends to be.
Fowler’s is full of local flavors. From Perry’s ice cream and Sweet Jenny’s gelato to their own homemade sponge candy bars, this shop is full of “Buffalo”. Stop on in to try some delicious treats in a truly unique atmosphere.
Stop #9 – Parkside Candy
Address: 3208 Main St, Buffalo, NY 14214 / parksidecandy.com
Last, but most certainly not least, Parkside Candy is the final stop on this trail. Parkside Candy is another historical landmark of the Buffalo area. Founded in 1927, Parkside has been making chocolates, old-fashioned lollipops, and sponge candy with quality ingredients, the most important of which is family. Parkside takes pride in being owned by two families over the course of three generations since its founding. While the faces my have changed over time, the commitment to remaining old-fashioned has not. Parkside moved to its current location on Main Street ten years after its founding and opened its manufacturing plant just behind the storefront. Parkside has restored the historic building over time to present a truly unique experience.
While the outside may be a bit unassuming, when you walk inside the shop you’ll instantly be transported to a pre-WWII candy shop and ice cream parlor. A perfect example of Adam Revival design, Parkside boasts a checkerboard floor, intricate moldings, classical wood cases, antique tables and chairs, and even two street lamps that look like they were lifted off a war-era sidewalk and dropped smack dab in the center of an ice cream parlor. The classical experience doesn’t end there though. At Parkside you are treated to table side service by a waitress/waiter dressed in classical ice cream parlor attire complete with an apron and bow tie. At your table you’ll be given a small vintage Coca-Cola glass with water while you wait for your order.
When your ice cream order arrives, it will come in a classical tin sundae dish or glass milkshake glass depending on what you order. I ordered a scoop of the UB Graham Slam ice cream to start. The ice cream was creamy with a tasty graham-flavored base and had several pieces of some kind of soft fudge. Named after the local University of Buffalo, this flavor is worth trying for its local ties and exclusivity. I also ordered the Chocolate Chip Concoction, which consisted of cookie dough ice cream, hot fudge, whipped cream, chocolate shavings and a cherry, all accompanied by a warm chocolate chip cookie. The cookie dough ice cream was excellent and packed with cookie dough chunks, while the hot fudge was very abundant throughout the sundae. What set the sundae off though was the warm chewy cookie. I don’t know about you, but I like my cookies warm, doughy and large, and this cookie definitely fit the bill. If you’re a fan of cookies and ice cream, this should definitely be your order.
All in all, Parkside offers several homemade ice cream flavors (I counted 17), sundaes, shakes, parfaits, sodas, floats, pies, cakes, cheesecakes and even sandwiches and soups. Whatever you’re in the mood for, Parkside can deliver with an unmatchable classical style. While the architecture and classical feel are more than enough to warrant a visit, the service is some of the nicest and most generous you will find anywhere. Parkside truly is a one-of-a-kind experience that you can’t get anywhere else.
Now that the trail has ended, I’d like to take a moment to make a note about some special qualities of the Buffalo shops involved. Unlike most other ice cream shops that I’ve visited in the past, these shops take pride in preserving their historical roots from their architecture to their offerings. A lot of ice cream places are modern builds or totally remodeled buildings, but not these Buffalo shops. In that same thinking, several of these shops are somewhat hidden gems that give credence to the thought that you should never judge a book by its cover. Outside of the area, Buffalo and Western New York may be the butt of jokes or people may think that there is nothing special here, but they couldn’t be more mistaken. These shops are yet another example of unique commodities that make Western New York and Buffalo special. If you’re from Buffalo you should take a bit of pride in knowing that you’re from an area that has these wonderful places, because most other areas don’t.
Another thing most areas don’t have is sponge candy. That’s right, it’s time to dish on the sponge candy. Below I’ve included a guide to different factors you’ll find and which you might like best based on your personal sponge candy preferences:
If you like ______________ then try:
Day 1 – Oliver’s, Antoinette’s, King Condrell’s, and Aléthea’s
Flavorful chocolate – Aléthea’s, King Condrell’s
Thick chocolate – Antoinette’s
Crunchy shell and sponge – King Condrell’s
Classic sponge consistency – Oliver’s
Good sponge-chocolate ratio: Oliver’s
Day 2 – Platter’s, Sweet Jenny’s, Watson’s, Fowler’s, Parkside
Good chocolate – Watson’s, Platter’s
Crunchy shell and sponge – Sweet Jenny’s, Parkside
Classic sponge consistency – Platter’s
Good sponge-chocolate ratio: Fowler’s, Watson’s,
Chewy sponge – Parkside, Sweet Jenny’s
Melty sponge – Fowler’s