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Bushwick's Own Candy Chemist Eugene J. is Cooking Up Something Sweet

Harry Potter meets Tim Burton in Bushwick’s newest candy store, Eugene J

Treats on display in the shop. Photo by Natalie Taylor for Bushwick Daily.

Harry Potter meets Tim Burton in Bushwick’s newest candy store, Eugene J. Candy Co. The Wilson Ave. storefront appears dark and unassuming from the street, but inside, it's a fairy tale world of sweet, sour and salty treats that satisfy every craving.

The store opened on March 8 and has been attracting customers old and young (the sweet tooth does not discriminate!), and the interior’s playful, springtime pastels and fake icing along the walls create an enchanted gingerbread house atmosphere so sweet you’ll want to eat it.

But save that appetite for the real stuff. Candy Co. offers an assortment of goodies that includes chewy candies like gummies and licorice, specialty chocolates, including truffles, chocolate double-stuffed Oreos, naked pecan patties and giant peanut butter cups, old-fashioned, nostalgia-inducing chocolate bars and gift items like Jelly-Belly and Pez dispensers. And that’s just 60% of what owner Eugene J. is prepared to supply.

“Every single day a new item goes on the shelf, and it’s slowly filling up,” said Eugene.

The Queens native currently gets his store’s supply from small batch candy makers across the country, including Brooklyn-based taffy company The Salty Road, Portland's QUIN, and Florida marshmallow makers Wondermade. But Eugene plans to add his own candy creations to his shelves come summertime.

Eugene’s always had a passion for cooking and baking sweets: he started making candies as a kid, and his early experiments with the art form included projects making caramels and hard candies. While attending chemical engineering school at Cooper Union, he took the tools he learned in the lab back into his kitchen, conducting trial and error tests and tweaking his candy recipes. Like a true scientist, he conducts multiple renditions of the same trials to make a flavor stronger, and makes several batches to see which one is the best.

“I make a lot of mistakes,” said Eugene. “I learn every way how to not make candy before I learn how to make the candy.”

Even now, as an expert with a BS in Chemical Engineering, he says the learning process is never finished. He is constantly honing his craft, which includes taking classes with the National Confectioners Association to perfect techniques like panning (a tricky way of putting a sugar or chocolate coating on something).

Once the proper licensing and permits are squared away, Eugene plans to convert the back section of the store into a lab to make his candy in-house. The candy chemist uses all-natural and GMO-free products, but says, most importantly, his products are fun. He draws inspiration from Roald Dahl novels, Hansel and Gretel, Harry Potter and Tim Burton, creating an experimental fairy-tale experience.

Despite his expertise and unique creations, Eugene personal candy preferences are straightforward. He tells Bushwick Daily that his favorite candy is Peanut M&Ms and any gummy candy (evidenced by the fact that his shop is full of gummies). But he’s eager to fill the store with his customers’ favorites, too.

“It’s fun now because I’m taking requests from customers,” said Eugene. “I get to have fun and fulfill other peoples’ desires.”

So if you're craving a special treat, Eugene J. Candy Co. has you covered. And keep an eye out for Eugene's craft candy creations, which will hit shelves this summer.

Photo via @eugenejcandyco Instagram

Eugene J. Candy Co is located at 16 Wilson Avenue between Noll St. and George St. off of the Morgan Ave. stop on the L train. The hours are Tuesday-Sunday 12pm-8pm, and the telephone number is (718) 381-1050. The shop's website is eugenej.com; follow them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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