The holidays are the ideal -- and perfectly acceptable -- time for kids of all ages to chow down on chocolate, crunch candy and basically indulge your sweet teeth. At the new Sweet! Hollywood candy emporium at Hollywood & Highland, which soft-opened in November, you can literally do this; there's a large white chocolate molar ready and waiting for you.
Inspired by the weird world of Willy Wonka -- the Wonka boutique is here, complete with everything Nerd, chocolate crayons that actually write and many more exclusive individual choc treats, as well as a one-minute-he's-there-the-next-he's-not, Depp-ish Wonka himself -- this extravaganza features 12 themed boutiques over 30,000 square feet.
Sanely eschewing strobe lights and the sort of loud music that might make this a sort of sugar-rush Jungle Gym fit only for melting-down kids, this colorful maze of kitsch delights really has something for everybody. Even for sweetaholics it's overwhelming at first, so seek out the large vending machines; they offer samples of the types of candy on offer for 50 cents and up.
Highlights include the Chocolate Lab, a sort of anti-Subway where you choose your chocolate (milk, white, dark) and the extra ingredients, then watch it being customized -- calorie by calorie -- in front of you, coated in warm chocolate from the rotating vats, then placed on a slow-moving conveyor belt to be cooled in about 10 minutes.
Passing a sleek Ferrari car -- the centerpiece of a 700-foot-long, Rube Goldberg-esque gumball run track hanging overhead -- you can weave past the lollipop trees in Lollywood and then check out the Zombie Brains in Yucky!, the place for all things gross -- and home to a row of urinals and a toilet. You've not take a wrong turn, though; you grab a small plastic tube, attach it to the nozzle in the urinal, and lift the lever -- down comes sizzling sour powder. Enjoy!
There's an insanely tasty selection of Stay-Puft marshmallows -- the Ghostbusters favorite is here, his big face beckoning you in -- salty licorice at "Irishman" Rick O'Lish's, and in As If, a "shop for spoiled girls," there are chocolate high-heeled shoes that are so realistic they could be on a catwalk.
The essential M&M and Jelly Belly vending machines are here, too, and you can see more sugarcraft stretched, slapped, scraped and cut at Sticky, a store straight outta Australia, where they'll put your name or anything throughout the candy.
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In short, there's everything bad but oh so good here -- with some merch and kitsch thrown in, too -- and if that's not enough, until Jan. 9 you and the family can really go for broke at Loews Hotel around the corner. They have a double king suite -- complete with a view of the Hollywood Sign -- available, and the room comes stuffed with Sticky candy, oversize lollies and a 5-pound Wonka chocolate bar the size of a laptop. That's enough for 51 servings.
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