New York is under attack by cupcakes. Giant, fluffy cupcakes, gobbed with sickeningly sweet frosting and dumptruck-sized helpings of candy on top. One moment, Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and the City is chowing down on one, and the next, our fair city is awash in an unstoppable tidal wave of buttercream and sprinkles – it almost makes you want to go into a sugar coma.
Like cupcakes or loathe them, they’re a symptom of a much larger fact – New York is and always has been a sugar lover’s paradise. From the moment William Frederick Havemeyer founded what was to become the Domino Sugar Company in 1799, the city’s tastes were inextricably linked to this sweet, grainy substance. But even though Domino closed it doors in 2001 and Red Hook’s Revere Sugar Refinery met the wrecking ball in 2007, New York is still very much a sugar lover’s city.
And though we find ourselves in the midst of “cupcake craziness,” it would be a shame to forget the many other divine desserts, sublime sweet shops and bountiful bakeries that New Yorkers are spoiled with every day. Does chocolate make you weak at the knees? Looking for a candy “blast from the past?” Want to try some quirkier sweet fare like Belgian Waffles? Step inside Undiscovered New York’s guide to “Satisfying your sweet tooth.”
In New York, Dessert Comes to You!
Forget getting in a taxi or strenuous activities like walking – sweets are a food best consumed while relaxing. Perhaps that’s why one of New York’s many mobile “dessert trucks” can be a godsend. OK – they don’t literally come to you, but they do move around, offering dessert lovers across the city a chance to sample some first-rate goodies while they’re out and about.
Anyone who’s craving a Liege or Brussels-style Belgian waffle should search out the Wafles and Dinges truck. This roving truck serves some of the most authentic Belgian treats anywhere in the city. They come topped off with a range of awesome toppings, or “dinges,” ranging from fresh fruit, whipped cream and nutella. You can find the truck’s next location by checking out their website or on Twitter.
Another strong contender for best sweet-serving truck is the Dessert Truck. Not only do you get to enjoy your dessert al fresco, their selection is ever-changing and totally delicious. How about some Molten Dark Chocolate Cake, Brioche Doughnuts or Coffee Mousse? And all for only $5-6. Yes please.
Getting Your Sweets Old-School
Candy is a food that is inevitably associated with the carefree days of childhood. If you’re looking to relive those days of old (if even for just an hour), head to Economy Candy on New York’s Lower East Side. The store is one of the last holdouts of the old neighborhood, first opening its doors to sugar-lovers everywhere in 1937. In addition to a huge selection of bulk candy, licorice and chocolate, Economy also stocks quite a few old-school candy favorites, including candy buttons and Big League Chew. How’s that for sweet nostalgia?
And did you know Brooklyn also has its own brand of gum? OK, it was actually created in Italy in the 1950’s – but you’ve got to admit there’s something pretty neat about a city with its own brand of chewing gum. The tiny packs bearing the iconic bridge logo have become a cult favorite among Borough residents. Head to Brooklyn and see if you can find a pack.
Ice Cream Lovers, Unite
Who doesn’t love ice cream? Alright, maybe the lactose-intolerant. But truth be told, New York is a great city for frozen treats, whether you like the good old-fashioned American stuff or something a bit more international. Chinatown visitors will want to stop by the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory where they can sample exotic flavors like Wasabi, Durian and Zen Butter (?!). Italian gelato fans are in the right place too. Discriminating customers of Italian stuff swear by Ciao Bella, and straight from Rome upstart Grom.
If you’re looking for something more “All-American,” head to the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge for the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory which specializes in classic all-natural flavors. Last but not least, for a TRUE New York ice cream experience, grab a cone from Mister Softee – their chocolate-dip soft serve is a favorite summer treat.