Candy Rules!

A Sherman Oaks sweet shop makes mouths water for kids of all ages.

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  • Written by
    Linda Grasso •

On a typical summer day, Rocket Fizz Soda  & Candy Shop is jammed with children. No surprise. What’s more eyebrow-raising is the number of big kids in the old-fashioned-style store. “I’d say 65% of our customers are adults,” co-owner Dustin Ellis says. Although there’s an extensive selection of international candy (ever seen green tea-flavored Japanese Kit Kats?) as well as unusual stuff like acai pomegranate mints, the most popular items are the “nostalgic” sweets. Dustin explains, “Rocket Fizz is a trip down memory lane, whether you were born in the 50s or 70s.”

Floors are concrete, displays are wooden carts and walls are covered with retro, whimsical tin signs and cardboard posters. Candy is organized by country. Ever savored  a Crunchie? That’s a best-selling bar in the UK section. “Try this!” quips Dustin’s partner Rusty Hadjilou as he grabs something off the Japanese table. “It’s a cross between a Starburst and gum. The taste lasts and lasts!” Indeed the grapefruit-flavored hard candy has a remarkably pungent, citrus flavor that does seem to go on and on.

The duo opened the Sherman Oaks store in December (Dustin also owns one in Woodland Hills), and despite the closing of nearby Borders, sales have been steady. “People like to walk in this area, which is a plus.” Rusty, a former cartoon producer, and Dustin, a business school graduate, happen to be first cousins. “We complement each other and truly enjoy being here,” Rusty explains.

The owners love a challenge. Rusty says, “A kid will say ‘gimme something really sour. I can handle it!’ So I go crazy coming up with stuff. I’m like, ‘Have you tried Toxic Waste Bubblegum?’ That’s a seriously sour gum where the sour lasts for several minutes.” Other times they’ve got to satisfy a  connoisseur. “I might offer someone like that Dutch licorice—it’s incredible!” So here’s a challenge: What would you suggest for a girl who doesn’t like sweets? Rusty pauses before quickly darting around the store, “Ever tried Manner Wafers? They’re these really light wafers filled with chocolate hazelnut and vanilla crème. What about apple licorice?”

The owners also relish making custom gift baskets. Rusty says, “We can do any theme. For example, we’ve done a cat lover basket with items like Kiddle Piddle soda­­ and a Don’t Let the Cat Out tin sign. A slam-dunk is to fill a basket with items from the era of their childhood. I just did one for the ‘70s with Pop Rocks, Astro Pops and Laffy Taffy.” 

Rocket Fizz Soda Pop & Candy Shop

14613 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks | 818-981-9009 |