This Florida Candy Shop Makes its Jumbo Candy Canes the Old-Fashioned Way
"We are limited only by your imagination." If you can't find your dream soda or sundae on Lofty Pursuits' twelve-page soda fountain menu—which, considering the selection, is seemingly impossible—then you can create your own. It is the sweet freedom that, as a kid, you always dreamed of.
And Lofty Pursuits is undeniably a place of dreams. The vintage soda shop has just about anything and everything you could wish for—homemade, hand-stretched candy; a twelve-page menu detailing just some of the possible soda fountain creations; a farm-to-table brunch menu that can tell you exactly which North Florida farm your grits came from; a portable teal ice cream bus and soda cart; a custom Lactaid dispenser; shelves stacked with games and toys; and its very own marching band.
When you step into this Tallahaseee, Florida shop, you step back in time. The candy-making equipment is "well over 100 years old," and the shop is one of less than a dozen in the nation that still makes candy in this fashion.
Lofty Pursuits' candy-making equipment and techniques may date back over a century, but the candy is unabashedly innovative, often playing with sweet and savory flavors. The Thanksgiving candy collection—which features flavors like corn, sweet potato casserole, and butternut squash—is advertised as "a three course meal in candy," perhaps alluding to Willy Wonka's infamous three-course-meal chewing gum from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
At Lofty Pursuits, you can find any candy you're craving, from peach drops to dill pickle-flavored hard candies. You can find peppermint pearls and sour candies, cotton candy humbugs and cinnamon hearts. But the seasonal favorite has to be the candy canes. The oversized candy canes are "hand made one at a time using nothing but a candy cooling table from 1881, scissors and a spatula."
Unlike their mass-produced rivals, each of these cane-sugar canes is entirely unique. A section of the peppermint-flavored sugar is dyed red before the hot, putty-like sugar is pulled, layered, rolled, twisted, and cut. Just as the extra-thick red-and-white striped rolls start to cool, they're cut and shaped into their signature curved canes.
As the season approaches, the shop will release additional flavors and colors (in the past, they've offered innovative flavors like chocolate, coco, and pomegranate); Lofty Pursuits will even make custom candy canes in the colors of your choice. Guests can watch the candy canes being made at the Tallahassee shop or online on the Lofty Pursuits YouTube channel, which has 500,000 subscribers.
Lofty Pursuits isn't just a candy destination: True to form, the classic soda fountain is known for its house-made sodas and ice creams. Expert Soda Jerks and Fizzicians will guide you in selecting a custom-mixed soda; for those interested in further education, a handy glossary framed in a menu sidebar teaches the difference between Egg Creams, Fizzes, Yips, and Rickeys. Although they're mixing up just about any and every vintage drink you can dream of, the shop specializes in Ice Cream Sodas. These drinks, served in charming aluminum holsters, are type of cross between a milkshake and a float, blasted with carbonation from the signature Bastian-Blessing seltzer heads that date back to 1961. These specialty drinks can be made in any flavor—try the classic Black and White, chocolate soda with vanilla ice cream, or the Cherry Bomb, cherry soda with chocolate ice cream.
The ice cream flavors change each day, rotating through a standard repertoire of 250 flavors, and includes a daily selection of vegan flavors made with an almond milk base. And if you're going to have ice cream at a soda shop, it would feel almost sacrilegious not to have it in a sundae. There are 52 sundaes on the menu, enough to try a new one each week of the year ("one for every Sundae of the year," the menu cleverly boasts).
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Standout favorites include the "Sandy Sundae," complete with sweet cream ice cream, hot butter caramel, crushed shortbread cookies, a pinch of salt, whipped cream, and a cherry; the "Old Country Store," a vanilla ice cream base topped with RC Cola syrup, peanuts, whipped cream and a cherry, or "Deep Dark Chocolate Brownie Dreams," which is just as indulgent as it sounds: a hot brownie, robed in thick ganache, topped with deep dark chocolate ice cream, chocolate whipped cream, chocolate chips, and a cherry. Sundaes come in three sizes—self-control, junior, or regular—and many of the creations can be adapted to be vegan, no-sugar-added, or gluten-free.
This eccentric Florida candy shop is much more than just a candy shop; it's a community hub, a time-machine and a gathering spot. And, with all the shop has going on, it's safe to say that there's no other place quite like it.