The proprietor of Confection and self-described Candyman of Winter Haven Ivy Horn just opened what might be the coolest little candy shop anywhere across deep space. The sci-fi themed Confection Candy Shop, had its grand opening July 17. A vision in silver, Ivy was surrounded by friends, family and excited community members, all there to celebrate this delicious addition to downtown.
“I love candy as much as all kids do I think,” said Ivy. “In the last five or six years, it’s become my thing.” Candy became a part of her identity. During her travels, she was always on the lookout for something she hadn’t tried before – her next favorite treat.
Ivy grew up in Winter Haven, leaving for a time to live in Orlando. She moved back and has been working as a Wand Assistant in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios teaching the ins and outs of magic and spells. She still works her magic one day a week at the park.
The 27-year-old candy connoisseur has entertained a few studies of interest from Mandarin and women’s studies to film, writing children’s books to teaching. Among her studies, one of her favorite classes was a science fiction literature course at Polk State College. She described her professor, Mr. Junkins as an incredible teacher. The class’s exploration of pulp novels pushed her deeper into science fiction. This isn’t where her infatuation with the genre began though.
“I started watching Star Trek because it was on in the morning before high school,” she remembers. She devoured the original series and fell in love with the franchise. Now, Ivy can’t get enough of old horror and sci-fi flicks with The Twilight Zone being one of her favorites.
The Candy Concept
Sitting around the dinner table with her parents, the conversation of what they would like to see in downtown Winter Haven came up. Chocolate! Her parents are very involved downtown, her mom, Anita, has had two shops downtown. When they asked if she would consider opening a candy store, the possibilities began to whirl around her mind. Her initial concept was a horror-themed shop called Confection Crypt. Searching for something a little more kid-friendly, she turned from the macabre to sci-fi. “I could do candy and science fiction together, merge both of those things and create a space that’s inspiring – something that you’ll always remember,” she thought.
Ivy wanted a flying saucer fixture for the store, but her attention quickly turned to robots. Perusing the internet for famous robot replicas like Robbie the Robot and Gort from The Day the Earth Stood Still, she found a man named Fred Barton in California who makes them.
He sent over information about his work and there she found him, at the bottom of the sheet – Confection’s robot. The replica of a robot from the 1954 film, Target Earth, towers over 7-feet. She planned to integrate him into everything to do with the store, including the Confection logo. Her partner and mascot was soon on his way.
When asked his name, Ivy quipped, “He’s going to reveal his name to me very soon. We’re spending time together.” She did tell us what his name was not going to be. Amongst the rejects – Ringo, Bobby, and Lollitron. The two have since gotten to know each other and Winter Haven’s sweetest robot has introduced himself to be Zondar.
Beyond the “Nebulous Blue” store exterior, he is the first thing to catch your eye. Perhaps followed by the old science fiction movies Ivy projects on the wall or her offerings of tin robot toys. The shop’s walls and shelves are confettied by a rainbow of candies. A neon red sign, reading, “The Future is Sweet” hangs behind the counter. Even the trash bin is ready for a galactic mission – a white rocket-shaped Spaceboy.
The wide-eyed wonderment of a kid in a candy store – that’s what the Confection owner was most excited for prior to opening. “Just seeing them experience everything and asking me questions about things, “whatever they come up with,” she smiled.
Little Surprises Around Every Corner
Confection stocks a blissful mix of import and nostalgia candy, as well as craft chocolate. Each section of the store offers something different. Much like in Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, you’re sure to find, “Little surprises around every corner, but nothing dangerous.”
“I love import candy,” said the Winter Haven Candyman. Her sweet treats dot the map from the UK, Eastern Europe, and the Nordic regions. She has a selection from Japan and France, two countries she hopes to get more stock from.
As for the nostalgia side of things – lovers of Zotz, Zagnut Bars, and the like are in for a real treat, pun intended. Browsing the shelves with Confection’s adorable tiny red candy baskets in hand, you’ll also find fun sweets for the kids (or adults, we’re not judging) like 3D gummy monsters, gummy pizzas, and gummy take out.
Then, there’s the bean-to-bar craft chocolate. Ivy held up a bar with the name Frazer Nordi on it, a Sea Buckthorn & Salty Caramel flavor. “This is a line of chocolate bars inspired by the Nordic wilderness,” she said. She saw them set up at a market and was inspired by their clever look, wilderness vests and all.
Confection also boasts an exclusive selection from Castronovo, a chocolatier out of Stuart, Florida, considered to be a national leader in bean-to-bar craft chocolates. Other offerings come from the Nashville based Olive & Sinclair who produce duck fat caramels, smoked nib brittle, bourbon brittle, and craft flavors like salt and pepper chocolate.
The shop’s Sour Laboratory is run by mad scientist, Doctor Sisko. It displays an assortment of tart, vibrantly colored candy. This area of the store is complete with bubbling vials, Formula Sours in test tubes and other brimming scientific equipment.
Asked what her most coveted candies are, Ivy said at the top of her list was MozartKugel. “It’s a truffle and it has pistachio flavored marzipan and chocolate.” She’s hoping to get some for the holidays. “It has a picture of Motzart on it, it’s beautiful,” she said. Next was none other than the brightly colored, tart Formula Sours at her store.
Halloween – The Most Sacred Candy Holiday
Ivy’s favorite holiday? Halloween of course. “It’s like a candy harvest,” she said. In her spare time, she reimagines horror movie titles using candy lingo – Children of the Candy Corn, The Hills Have Buckeyes, The Texas Chick-O-Stick Massacre. Ivy wants Confection to not only be Winter Haven’s candy connection, but also a place of candy celebration. She’ll get the opportunity to play into her original “Confection Crypt” idea and maybe use a few of these titles to celebrate come October. She has been compiling a 1930s and 40s vintage horror playlist that is scary, but still kid-appropriate.
Inspired by memories of laying out Halloween candy on the floor, meticulously dividing it up by category, and trading with her brother – Ivy has thought about hosting a candy trade at Confection for the kids.
Operation Candy: Phase II
The candy store proprietor has a few eccentric and exciting ideas up her sleeve. “The thing about a candy store – you can be as weird and eccentric as you want. That’s why people liked Willy Wonka and why they wanted his candy so badly,” she smiled.
Once she’s settled in, her phase two plans involve cocktail and candy pairings. The Confection owner gave the community a taste of what that might be like at her grand opening, bringing in mixologist Justin Levaughn of The Courtesy Bar and also the Suffering Bastard Tiki Bar. She brought Levaughn candy for inspiration and asked him to create an accompanying menu. He did not disappoint. The first, “Howard’s Old Fashioned” was a duck fat washed bourbon with Guyanese Cacao honey and bitters that could be paired with Olive & Sinclair Duck Fat Caramels. The “Venus Attacks” was a gin, almond cordial, passionfruit, lemon, orange blossom, and bubble cocktail – suggested to be paired with Formula Sours from Confection’s Sour Laboratory. A perfect pairing to Geisha candy was “Manfish” a vodka, macadamia, toasted coconut, palm sugar, and pineapple concoction.
Eventually, she’d also like a cotton candy machine to create custom blends. “Freshly spun cotton candy is just incredibly visual, everything about it,” she said. “You can get bell pepper cotton candy – or any flavor.” She hopes to introduce patrons to these types of wild flavors, while also offering the classics.
It’s only fitting that Ivy Horn’s favorite candy movie is 1971’s Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. “The original [Willy Wonka] is everything I want this to feel like,” she said. “The sense of wonder and global panic over candy, like with the Wonka Bars – that’s what I really love.”
Confection Candy Shop
254 West Central Ave. Suite B