BY: Sara Smola
Owners Rosie O’Neill and Josh Resnick envisioned the novel concept of a candy store for grown ups during the early period of their courtship. “Sugarfina came about because Josh—who is now my fiancé—took me to see Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory on our third date and after the movie we were really obsessed with the movie and with the idea of why aren’t there any candy stores for grown-ups and only for kids? Why should kids have all the fun? We started brainstorming about what would a grown up candy store look like, what would it be like, what kind of candy? We started traveling around the world and looking for all these really interesting candies that haven’t been in the U.S.,” Sugarfina Co-Founder Rosie O’Neill explains.
Just as sweet-natured as her growing empire of candylands, O’Neill took the time to chat with me about Sugarfina’s candy-coated success. With several shops in California alone (and quickly expanding across North America!), Pasadena was lucky enough to be selected as one of Sugarfina’s storefront locales due in part to O’Neill’s love of the city. Now, Pasadenans can get their sugar fix whenever the cravings hit. “We have always had a soft spot for Pasadena. I love the history of the city. It’s a warm and charming community and neighborhood. I particularly fell in love with the alley that we’re on—Hugus Alley. There’s a really cool feeling to that neighborhood,” says O’Neill.
Sugarfina’s elegant atmosphere certainly contributes to the neighborhood appeal with their carefully curated selection of gourmet goodies. This upscale sugar stop has gone the extra mile by packaging the treats to perfection (a far cry from shoveling stale candies into a plastic bag like at a standard retailer). For those in search of a gifting go-to, Sugarfina’s gummies and jellies fit the bill for any occasion like a birthday, holiday, wedding a heartfelt thank you or, of course, a Valentine’s Day surprise.
Sugarfina’s bento boxes are a modern, fresh approach to the traditional box of chocolates with the treats on display in clear boxes accented with baby blue—the confectionary equivalent of Tiffany & Co. “We had found these beautiful gourmet candies and we wanted to treat them as special as they deserve to be treated. Everything is prepackaged and really beautiful, giftable, in ready to give boxes. Everything is color-coded, organized and pretty—we wanted something that felt more like a jewelry store,” says O’Neill. And the jewels in question come in both gummy and chocolate variety.
Sugarfina’s sweets are made from all over the world including Greece, Germany, Italy and Poland—just to name a few of the exotic locales where the candy is made by artisan candy makers—and many of the candies are only available in the United States at Sugarfina exclusively. Each worldly, decadent delight is made with only the most premium quality ingredients, from the German apricot hearts made with real apricot juice to the Italian sugared apple pie jellies infused with all-natural flavors like cinnamon and nutmeg.
The all-natural gummies come in whimsical shapes ranging from butterflies and seashells to ice cream cones and farm animals. And, of course, the infamous gummy bears. But, don’t mistake these gourmet goodies for the overly saccharine and artificially flavored bears from childhood! Made with real champagne, Sugarfina’s champagne bears spare no expense on flavor and will have tasters bubbling over with delight. “By far, our most popular is our champagne gummy bears and we just introduced a brand-new version made with Dom Pérignon Champagne. It’s an all-natural gummy made with real sugar, no high fructose corn syrup and no artificial masking stuff. They have a light champagne flavor with a nice texture,” O’Neill explains.
This Valentine’s Day, save yourself the trouble of deciding what to give as a gift—whether it’s for a significant other or someone who could become more than “just a friend,” Sugarfina has the answer with its sparkling blue and white shop filled with treats that can be enjoyed by everyone.