It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that adults love candy and soda pop just as much as kids. According to Patrick Evans, owner of the new Rocket Fizz Soda Pop and Candy Shop at Writer's Square (technically 1512 Larimer Street), the majority of his customers are between the ages of thirty and eighty.
"The public response to the store has been so overwhelming," muses Evans. "We've tapped into everyone's inner child."
Rocket Fizz is a sweets franchise whose flagship store is in Camarillo, California. Each shop is independently owned and operated; Evans left a corporate-track career to run his own store. "I was a corporate accountant for fourteen years," he says. "It was a soulless, thankless job, and I thought, 'I gotta stop this madness.'"
Evans could be deemed quite mad for putting all of his candies in this basket, but when you visit his store, it's obvious that he's exactly where he wants to be. But then, who wouldn't be happy as hell to work with sugar every day?
Much like Jill Landman-Alfond at Sugarlicious, Evans has basically given up real food since Rocket Fizz opened a few weeks ago. He laughs at the notion of non-candy sustenance and gestures toward the back room of the store. "I got a Subway foot-long at 11 a.m. and I haven't touched it yet," he says. It's now pushing 6 p.m.
The store has just about every kind of bottled soda imaginable, among them some wacky ones like Sweet Corn, Peanut Butter & Jelly and Buffalo Wing, as well as Judge Wapner sodas -- not judge-flavored, but officially endorsed by the man himself -- that include cream soda, cola and root beer.
"Bacon soda is our hottest seller," Evans says. "It tastes just like good, crispy bacon -- not chewy, crispy."
And Evans offers Westword an effervescent tip on a new product coming soon to Rocket Fizz: a Snookie-endorsed branded cola. "It's very tart," he discloses. "I'm not allowed to reveal the secret ingredient, but I will say that it's appropriate for Snookie."
Another huge seller is Evans's epic selection of decorative, vintage signs. The walls of the store are lined with everything from sign replicas of comic-book characters like Thor, Superman, Wonder Woman and Silver Surfer to sensually suggestive funny signs for both sexes. "The signs are selling like crazy," says Evans. "We just opened, but I've already had to do another order."
And then there is candy -- heaps upon heaps of candy. Imported, vintage, new, character, bite-sized, bars, bags and bins of candy. Evans has managed to procure some hard-to-find treats like Loucks Sesame Snaps, Look bars, supersized two-packs of Pearson's Mint Patties (these are better than York's, with more mint flavor) and Zagnut bars. Those bars (the fly-bait bar in Beetlejuice) are fairly obscure due to niche-market status, but the peanut-butter candy crisps coated with toasted coconut are timeless, and apparently popular with Denverites, based on the dwindling pile on one of the front shelves.
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"We are getting 35 variations of Cadbury candies in, and Kinder eggs," Evans adds. Kinder eggs will likely be fantastic sellers, because these imported Italian chocolate eggs contain tiny toys (assembly usually required) that appeal to kids, and they are a sentimental favorite with adults, especially those who have lived overseas.
"We have international students at the three colleges here, and this appeals to them," smiles Evans.
Rocket Fizz is obviously appealing to everyone; we've found it busy on every trip we've made to the store. Here, as a sweet teaser treat, are photos of the goodies: