Behind the Scenes | The Candy Jar

Life is sweet for the owner of a sugar mecca.

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The Candy Jar in the Hill Country Galleria is truly a family-run business: mother Christine Messina is at the helm of the store, her brother-in-law handles the day-to-day operations, her daughters (ages five and eight) do a bit of cleanup for the occasional allowance funds, and her husband acts as unofficial taste taster. And Christine Messina wouldn't have it any other way.

"The business is about the family," Messina says. "It's why we started it. We were traveling all the time for my husband's job, and wherever we went, we would always stop at a candy store, whether it was Dillon's in New York or this little place called the Sugar Shack in Rosemary Beach. It was in the Sugar Shack one spring break that we said to one another, "We need something like this in Austin."

That idea became their spacious and bright store that's brimming with confections big and small, unique and popular—the Messinas stock more than 1,200 varieties, and the neutral palette of the design allows the vibrant palette of candy to speak for itself. This was intentional, Messina explains: "Candy is colorful and fun on its own. We designed the Candy Jar to provide a clean, timeless, and aesthetically pleasing environment so the focus is on the candy. We avoided the typical garish environment because so often it's to overstimulating, too trendy, and not something you want to linger in."

The candy is presented to customers with the same attention to style. No matter if you're buying pounds of gourmet jelly beans or only a few gummy frogs, the Messinas package each purchase like a small beautiful gift. And that's because it is, Messina says. "If you're going to have candy, then it is special, it is a treat. So we make it special by making the package pretty—otherwise, it's just like grabbing Twizzlers from a convenience store."

Rounding out the store's offerings are plenty of local and fair-trade sweets, a party room (where they've hosted myriad parties for "children" from four to 18), and counter service for genuine New Orleans-style snowballs, each crowned with a gummy on top. "Buying, receiving, or gifting candy should be special," Messina says. "And the Candy Jar celebrates that fact."

Six Candy Jar Facts to Sink Your Teeth Into

  • They carry artisan chocolate bars from Austin-based chocolatiers like Naked Fox Confections (try the salted caramel bar), Kiskadee Chocolates, and Maggie Louise Confections, among others...
  • ...and they also carry 54 (count 'em!) flavors of salt water taffy.
  • The Wild Woman Truffle from Wiseman House (55% dark chocolate and two types of Belgium chocolate) is by far their most popular truffle.
  • Tiger's Blood is the number-one-selling New Orleans-style snowball flavor, but close on its heels are Wedding Cake and Blue Bubblegum.
  • Younger patrons favor anything sour, squeezed out of a tube, or sprayed into their mouth.
  • The store opened last year at 10:00am, on October 1, after pushing the schedule back two weeks—only to then find out that the time and date match a golden ticket from the movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.


Photography by Leah Overstreet

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