Recently, I dropped my wife Peg off for an allergy shot, and then drove down MLK to the home and sales store of Johnson Candy Company. You have to brave the construction workers, cones, and vehicles all involved with creating the trolley from downtown to Hilltop. I had run into road closed signs before, but a friend mentioned Johnson’s was still open and operating. The candy shop is located on the southeast corner of People’s Park. Their front door had been damaged (vandalism), but still worked.
I’ve been to this store numerous times. Our second home after we were married was just a block further south on K Street. It was a fairly large apartment across the street from the iconic Brown’s Star Grill. We paid our rent each month at Johnson’s . . . but I don’t think we could afford the candy then. Our daughter Andi was due. Memories come back to the surface just thinking of Johnson’s.
I was greeted as I entered, but I needed no help. I knew exactly where I wanted to go. Turn left from the broken door and walk about fifteen steps. On the shelf of the street side are inexpensive little bags of candy heaven. I chose a red beaded strawberry looking candy about twice the size of my thumbnail in a see-thru packet of six or seven pieces. My second selection was a little bag of dark chocolate covered espresso beans. My third selection was seven black licorice coins. Each bag was a dollar.
I checked out the “imperfects” along the table by the front window and avoided the glass cases protecting the excellent selections of various chocolate and nougat wonders. I paid my three dollars and told the hostess I was thrilled that Johnson’s was still operating. Imperfect chocolate candies usually mean they don’t look perfect, but doesn’t reflect on the taste. As a teenager, my buddies and I would usually buy a bag of imperfects from a chocolate shop on South Tacoma Way on our way to the StarLite Drive-in and also when we went camping on Mt. Rainier after graduating from Clover Park (1964).
Once I returned to my car, I started in on my little three bag feast. I ate three of the strawberry beads. They were absolutely wonderful. I stopped at three and saved the rest for Peg. I ate all of the espresso beans at one time . . . throwing caution to the wind and figuring they might keep me up all night, but I slept well that evening. I had never eaten the licorice coins before. I popped three in my mouth and drove back to pick up Peg. I was still chewing on the same three when I pulled into the parking space by the hospital. The coins reminded me of my childhood and love of penny candy. I liked the brown and chewy versions of licorice. I was chewing the last of the coin impressed licorice when Peg joined me.
I’m hoping that the Johnson Candy Company will continue to for years, especially now that the Hilltop area us gaining access from downtown.
Peg loved the red beaded strawberry looking candies as much as I did. Next visit I may have to buy two bags of the reds . . . perhaps, three . . . or four.