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Find flavor blasts from the past at the Purple Penguin Candy Emporium

Desiree Guerrero | The Daily Wildcat The shop is filled with tons of candies, craft sodas, antiques and more. Owner Volpi says many customers come in to look for specific candies they enjoyed in their youth that they cannot find elsewhere.

The Purple Penguin Candy Emporium, located across from the Reid Park Zoo in Tucson, is the city’s old-fashioned candy store that specializes in selling nostalgic treats from the past.

According to the business’s Facebook page, page, the antique and candy-filled store allows customers to “rekindle your childhood memories and share them with your family.”

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The inside of the store is filled with all kinds of taffy, old-fashioned and modern candy bars, lollipops, toys and vintage items such as a hundred-year-old telephone and candy crane toy.

Dino Volpi, owner of the candy emporium, loves the still-working antique items for customers to try for their amusement.

“We have a claw machine from 1920 and we load it with candies,” Volpi said. “We left the price at 10 cents; it’s more of a giveaway item.”

Owner Dino Volpi opened his candy emporium earlier this year, specializing in not only a variety of candies and treats, but antiques as well. Volpi says the smiles on customers' faces when they walk in the shop brings him joy.

There are many bowls and barrels of candy all over the store, and customers are encouraged to try new flavors that the store just got in stock.

“We let people sample,” Volpi said. “If you don’t know what a piña colada or huckleberry tastes like, you pick one up and eat it.” 

Purple Penguin Candy Emporium also carries many craft and classic sodas from the past and present.

“We carry snozzberry from Willy Wonka,” Volpi said. “Harry Potter’s Butterbeer is in here.”

Modern sour candy and chocolate bars are at the store as well and help attract UA students and children while also introducing them to older ones they’ve never seen before. 

Volpi previously owned a vintage store by the same name as the candy emporium and appreciates the story an old item can tell to young children and senior citizens alike.

“It’s a little bit of history, everything in here,” Volpi said. “I didn’t see anything like this in Tucson.”

Rebekah Holman has worked at Purple Penguin Candy Emporium since July and has loved the happiness that radiates from customers who find an old candy they used to love.

“It’s happy people,” Holman said. “Everyone’s excited to come in here.”

Hundreds of candies are available at Purple Penguin Candy Emporium, along with the large assortment of flavored taffies to choose from.

However, there are some customers that seek candies that simply aren’t made anymore.

“The worst thing that happens here as far as angry customers go is telling them that Necco Wafers aren’t around anymore,” Holman said.

Dino Volpi has successfully managed to research and find certain companies from the 19th century that are still making the candy today, and has made many people happy by providing them with special memories of their childhood.

Volpi recalls an elderly woman coming into the store one day asking if he had Mountain Bars, explaining that she hadn’t eaten the candy in 20 years.

“I looked at her and I said, ‘You want vanilla, cherry or peanut butter?’” Volpi said. “I thought she was going to break down in tears.”

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For many customers, the store isn’t just about the candy inside. It’s about the history and the memories that the items bring back for people. 

According to Holman, “that’s really the coolest part.”

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