Minnesota’s Largest Candy Store is a bright yellow hangar-like building that calls to motorists heading south along 169 to Mankato or Emma Krumbee’s. We’re not attesting to the truth of its claim to superlative size; that’s its proper name. Or it seems to be, given the capitalization and the lack of another name anywhere else on the building. It’s part of Jim’s Apple Farm, one of a string of orchards that runs south from the Twin Cities into southern Minnesota.
Editor’s note: We revisited Minnesota’s Largest Candy store in October, 2014.
In a day when it’s all about social media and if Google can’t find you, you don’t exist, the only way you can find Minnesota’s Largest Candy Store is by driving right by it. In which case, you can’t miss it.
Inside the yellow hangar are tables and tables of candy. There’s no fancy retail shelving or endcaps and all the signs are hastily handwritten. Two kinds of candy-lovers are going to be very happy here: retro candy junkies and those nostalgic for the chocolates they fell for while backpacking around Europe.
How can you not smile when you see Pop Rocks for the first time in 20 years? Or candy buttons, Nik Nips (those wax bottles filled with colored sugar water), Smarties lollipops (the ones shaped like UFOs), Sugar Daddies, Sugar Babies, Charleston Chews, and candy necklaces — that, I think, is the whole candy counter from the camp where I took swimming lessons as a kid. There’s a huge display of candy cigarettes, too, which might make some people nostalgic, even though, really, can anybody say they liked those chalky white flavorless sticks? (And, yes, their sale is banned in St. Paul and some other municipalities.)
If you’ve spent any time in European youth hostels, you’ve said or heard something like this: “A Mars Bar is actually a Milky Way and a Milky Way is really a 3 Musketeers and why does everybody over here love Bounty so much?” If you miss the European Mars Bar — chocolate-covered whipped nougat, like a Milky Way, but not as fluffy — this is the place to stock up. Also stock up on Milka, Cadbury, Yorkies, Flakes, Haribo, Lindt, and the hard-to-find Ritter Sport with yogurt. Two Canadian favorites on my husband’s wish list, Violet Crumble and Smarties, were not to be found, but I did pick up a Coffee Crisp for him.
The other happy customers: Kids who care more about crazy novelty and packaging than taste. There’s a six-inch gummy bear and a 36-inch gummy snake, pixie sticks as tall as a toddler, and all sorts of plastic, battery-operated ways to get high-fructose corn syrup into your mouth in novel ways. I noticed a certain phenomenon as I walked around: a candy necklace abandoned in front of the Fruit Stripe gum, a peanut butter cup plunked down in front of the Willy Wonka chocolates. It was clear what was going on: Lucky kids were told to pick out one treat and, as they walked around, their choices just kept getting better and better and better.
It’s not just kids, however, walking around with smiles on their faces. I overheard an elderly lady say to her family, “I found my Mallo Cup and now I’m happy.” She did, indeed, look very happy.
Candy only takes up about half the store, however. The rest is given over to apples, homemade pies (fresh and frozen), a ten-foot long shelf of local fruit preserves, and another, just as long, of pickled things, from green beans to eggs. Four cooler cases hold dozens and dozens of small-brand sodas, from Jones and Boylan to the even more obscure ($1.69 apiece, pack your own six-pack). One whole case is dedicated solely to root beer.
I asked the woman behind the cash register for the telephone number, so I could call later and ask about the history of the place. She said, “Nope, no telephone. But you can talk to that man over there. He’s the owner.”
She pointed to a tall man in red suspenders who was bagging apples by the front door. He looked a lot like Jim Bob Duggar — healthy, wholesome, deeply content — and was smiling to himself as he worked and greeted customers. A few were joshing him: “What are you now, the stock boy?” “Yep!” he grinned. “That’s me.”
I apologized for interrupting him and explained what I was after: an online magazine would love to tell its readers more about his store. “Would you believe I have never been on the internet?” His grin grew even wider as he asked. And, yes, at that moment I very much believed that this man had no use for the lackadaisical cynicism of LOLcats and epic fails and awkward family portraits. He was surrounded by candy and apples and happy customers. Lots of happy customers. All of whom found their way to the giant, bright yellow hangar without a website or, as far as I’ve ever seen, any advertising.
“That’s okay,” I said. “I can mail you the article when it’s done. Can I get your number and call you at a more convenient time?” Without hardening his face in the least he answered, “You can give me your number.” I wrote it down for him, adding my email address out of sheer habit and watched him put it in his jeans pocket. This guy is never going to call me, I thought. He’s got so many better things to do.
I wanted to ask him so much — about the history of the place; about his candy connoisseurship; whether he, in fact, stocks 57 or 87 kinds of licorice, as competing roadside signs claim; why he doesn’t stock any Turkish Pepper or Finnish chocolate — but not enough to harass a man doing an honest day’s work in a business he clearly loved.
He never did call. And I don’t blame him in the least.
As I left, I watched him, in his red suspenders and chambray work shirt, step out of the store and stride purposefully toward the field behind it. He still looked happy. As happy as a guy who owns the biggest candy store in Minnesota.
Minnesota’s Largest Candy Store and Jim’s Apple Farm
Interesting place… I visited with my brother & his kids a couple of weeks ago. We had a good time snooping around. A couple of things of note:
-they don’t take credit cards, but do have an ATM
-approaching the place from the south is sketchy as there is no left turn lane
-cut-it-yourself apple samples sounded fine until I witnessed a few grubby-handed kids with their fingers all over the samples.
But really, what’s not to like about a store with 4-foot-high “bacon” lettering across the front?
A fitting location for a candy store in the northern fringes of the corn syrup belt in MN. Essentially the products are indirectly subsidized by USDA subsidies, loans, crop insurances and other incentives for growing corn.
Dude, you really need to lighten up a little.
It’s a CANDY STORE.
Analyze the Ag-policy implications maybe another time.
OMG Yorkies!!!! It’s NOT for girls!
And the pies are unreal. If I remember right, there’s an old man (really old) who makes all of them from scratch, and they’re fabulous.
This place is a must visit for anyone really into Root Beer.
…and candy, lots of it! And apples, and pie!
This has become an annual tradition for us to get hard-to-find candy, root beers, and our winter jigsaw puzzles. They have a huge selection. This year we picked up some Leninade (a citrus soda) in the root beer section. Look it up on Wikipedia. The bottle is a hoot and the soda was darn tasty too.
I live in Duluth, MN, and try to visit the place as often as I run down to Mpls. to visit relatives. They open in mid-July and close one week after Thanksgiving. Last week, I drove down on a Sunday just for one last “fix”. I bought two cases of root beer and other sodas (only ones made with real cane sugar). I also bought some frozen apple pies. These are truly the best pies I ever had! (sorry mom!) I’m already looking forward to the opening next July!
Anywhere that has real Cadbury (as opposed to Hershey’s distribution in the US) is OK in my book.
Does anyone know if they have Vidal gummies (the kind one would purchase in Spain)?
Hey Fyi, Violet Crumbles are not a Canadian Candy. They’re Australian. We have Crunchie bars in Canada but they really aren’t as good, kind of taste like a burnt Violet crumble. Smarties are here though and they are delicious!
The pies rocking good.
Their number is not working. Are they still in business?
I was told the store doesn’t have a phone!
Yes they are open. Do not know the hours though. Drove by the other day mid afternoon.
what is their hours
I’ve spent a lot of time in the UK visiting family and going to grad school and this place Always makes me happy. In addition to all those yummy English sweets they also have a great selection of older, traditional apples. I believe they sell a variety called “Golden Russet” that my mother and I swear tastes like the classic British apple “Cox”- very firm, slightly dry, and with a distinct bite that makes them ideal for cider-making (alcoholic, of course). They are also great bakers, but I love them on their own- they taste like my second home.
And don’t forget the gorgeous pies and nuttiest nut rolls you’ll ever find!!
I know I’ll be there soon!!!
Jim’s is an awesome place. I go there at least once a week to get my fix of apple wood smoked jerky, some root beer, and a few random candies for my daughter. If I remember correctly they are open 9am to 9pm, 7 days a week!
Anyone know a way to get a hold of them? I just moved back to California, and would love to order some of their pies!
oh snap they have a giant gummy bear
Can anyone tell me when they closed for the year. Other website say Nov 30 but that was for 2010.
Thanksgiving weekend, Nov. 26–27, was the last weekend for this season. It was our first visit there. We had a great time looking at all of the puzzles and varieties of candy.
Anybody know if they carry any organic candies?
Does anyone have a website or phone number for them?
Are they still open? I called their number and it was disconnected. Thanks!
They are not open for the season yet. I did notice a second entry has been added at the north end of the property in the past month. Too many crashes and close calls.
How do you get there from the south if there is no left turn lane? Is it a long way trying to turn around? And then how tricky to get back out and continue south? We’d like to stop on our way back from South Dakota on Sunday.
Yay! They are now OPEN for the season~!! I just love all the yellow fence that they put up each year. This year they even have the fencing across the highway. It also looked like the expanded again!
They also put in a brand new turn lane, and a brand new entrance this year. So if you are coming from the south, it will be much easier and safer.
I will be going there tomorrow afternoon to get my fix of strudel, root beer, and of course some candy!
Are they open during the week? Anybody know the hours? Can’t wait to get my pie on.
Store Hours: Mon. – Thu. 9 a.m. – 7 p.m.; Fri. – Sun. 9 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Open Seasonally, Until November 30th
17365 Johnson Memorial Drive (Hwy 169)
Oh yes! My kids have been asking me when they open. We are going out there today! Mmmmmmmm the strawberry rubarb is my favorite! It is a great place to go for thr afternoo. And go back to being a kid! I wish they had a play ground for the kids, them it would be perfect.
As root beer connossiers, we were thrilled to learn of this place. We stopped a few weeks ago marvelled that they had 3 full banks of rootbeers/sarsparillas. We bought a case of root beer (24 bottles, each different). We estimated that they offered about a case of brands we have already tried and yet another full case of ones we haven’t yet tried. And that’s not counting the diet or sarsparilla versions we avoid. It’s rootbeer nirvana and we can’t wait to go back to re-stock!
I was a little disappointed, however, that they didn’t have much in the form of British Cadbury candies. I’d been wanting a Crunchie. Oh well.
We just stopped by and it is even better!!! They have expanded their parking and added more rootbeers. We stopped at Jim’s after eating dinner at Suzette’s which is just north of Jim’s on the east side of the road. Suzette’s serves gourmet french-italian made by a Cambodian chef who is Swiss trained. Okay Corral a cowboy themed burger/grill restaurant is next to Suzette’s. Jim’s, Okay Corral, and Suzette’s are each gems and they are with in about a mile of each other in the middle of nowhere between Jordan and Belle Plaine.
I heard on my local news that you sell bacon flavored
toothpicks. I have looked for any flavored kind. I use them as a crutch for stop smoking. The bacon flavored ones sound like something i would like to try. However I live in Neenah WI. about 35 miles south of Green Bay. I would like some info so I could order a couple boxs. Can you help get me the info I need.
How do i find your address and phone number on your website?
Phone number listed above is disconnected. Do they have pressed cider?
We just found out that pies are from Sara Lee. So much for being “homemade”.
Soggy pies! I could not agree more. Get fat and to to Jims!
I stopped in for a root beer, some candy cigs and a famous caramel apple pie this afternoon with the kids. The wonderful aroma of baking pies just filled the entire store with the smells of grandmas kitchen. Since we are on the topic of grandmas, I talked briefly with the sweet old man behind the pie window about how he makes them each day in the back room. It’s the same recipe he’s been using for years and years. Who am I to argue with that?! It’s a must stop, it’s even worth a special trip from the cities…it’s that Good!
Hi I was wondering what day the candy store opens?
We will be hosting the inaugural River Falls Bacon Bash on Sunday, September 8, 2013. This one-day festival will celebrate all things bacon, include pig-themed activities for the entire family, live music, food and non-food vendors. We are actively seeking vendors who provide a variety of bacon-related items and invite you to participate. Check out http://www.rfchamber.com for details.
Judy F. Berg
River Falls Bacon Bash
I was there and purchased
hafco Coated Candy Dutch Licorice Chalk. Is there anyway to order some to be shipped? It’s the best I’ve ever tasted. How much is it?
I would like to know if
you carry mint julips (square candy)
or grape julips.
It is over-the-top fantastic. Unfortunately our experience was tainted when my youngest daughter left her Hello Kitty wallet (unbeknownst to me) in our (accidentally unlocked) car and it was stolen.
I love candy
My boss at work said you have really good root beer. Though it has been a while since she has visited your establishment. Do you have and or make your own Root Beer?
This is my Grandchildren’s favorite place to go on their birthdays. No time limit, no cost limit (so far) They love the variety, they find things from when they “were kids” love the giant size cadies and the silly named soda “kitty piddle, Monster boogers” and such. Fun fun place!
When are you open for this 2018 season?
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