Okay, this is probably (read: definitely) a bad idea—but where else am I going to find such a wide selection of fresh gummy candy? Still, you probably shouldn’t go to IT’SUGAR if your allergies are very severe or sensitive—but if you can generally handle a bit of uncertainty, or if you’re sometimes a bit irresponsible…well, read on.
IT’SUGAR (no idea why they insist on stylizing their name like that; I always read it as “it’s Ugar,” with Ugar being some sort of green, dripping swamp monster) is a rather expensive, tourist-packed bulk candy store—with nut products present in legions. They don’t have any allergen information posted, though they do have ingredients listed for all of their loose candy (and, of course, for their packaged candy—almost all of which comes with some sort of “may contain” statement). Not exactly a safe haven for the food-allergic, but hey. I’m going to write about it anyway—and maybe insist that you not take this post as any sort of suggestion to drop what you’re doing and make your way to the place.
Anyway, the store. It’s made up of a number of platforms I’m going to refer to as islands, each with around 25 bins filled with candy you’re meant to scoop into your little bag, which you’ll be charged (a lot) for by weight. There’s usually a chocolate island and two or three gummy islands—and a bunch of extra candy lining the walls, too. A lot of it is their own brand (which, like I said, is covered with “may contain” warnings), but they have plenty of other candy, too: retro candy, giant candy, novelty candy—and in general, stuff that can be pretty hard to find elsewhere. (For example: They have Charleston Chews, which are kind of awful, but which I decided I absolutely needed to try one night—long after It’s Ugar had closed. Long story short, I didn’t get my Charleston Chew.)
I avoid the chocolate island (actually, let’s go with Chocolate Island) like the plague—too many nuts, not enough allergen information, and too high a chance of cross-contamination—but I’ve never had any trouble with the gummies. The employees refill the bins straight out of these sealed plastic bags stored under the islands, and the content of the bins seems to stay pretty consistent (by which I meant that there aren’t almond clusters in a bin one day and gummy bears in it the next).
Still, I haven’t spoken to anyone at It’s Ugar about any of this, nor do I claim to know much at all about the safety of the place. So again: you shouldn’t take this post as any sort of call to action—for now, I’m just sharing my experience.
The reason I keep going back, though, despite It’s Ugar’s apparent allergy-unfriendliness, is simple: the candy is really good, and I’m a sucker for good candy. Staleness is make-or-break with gummies, and theirs are almost never stale. Major points. And the selection is really wide, which is always a plus.
If you do end up going, I have one tip (other than to avoid Chocolate Island): Get the price-fixed takeout container (pictured above, $14.99), and stuff it as full as you can manage. Seriously—really mush those gummy frogs in there. The employees won’t judge you for it; in fact, they’ll probably judge you if you aren’t actively trying to get more for your money, because the place is really, really overpriced. Plus, with the takeout container, you avoid the risk of losing track of the weight of your bag and inadvertently spending like $28 on pineapple gummy bears and red Finnish licorice. (No, I’m not speaking from experience. How dare you?)
Don’t go. Seriously, don’t. But if you do: there are a bunch of locations in the city, but my favorite is the one on Broadway between Bleecker and 3rd—although if you’re looking to avoid the crowds, you might be better off at the smaller location in Brooklyn (210 Joralemon St).