As a candy critic, my goal was to find out where you’ll get the best “bland í poka” (mixture of candy in a small plastic bag) in downtown Reykjavík. Here in Iceland, these candy stores, scattered all around the city, are called “sjoppur”, always in a maximum 10 minutes walking distance, with a selection usually far beyond what is needed. Just to mention some of the diverse sugary sweets to be found in Iceland’s candy stores-highlighting the candy makers creativeness in the meantime- there are sweet, sour and peppery bonbons, gummy-lips and gummy-mushrooms, chocolate fingers, liquorice coins, sour apple rings, salted skulls, not to mention the ever-popular salty smilies.
With 2000 krónur in my pocked, I headed up Lauga-vegur, feeling like a kid again as I was scouting for the best candy in town. As a kid, I always took my time to select diligently what sweets would end up in my small plastic bag, but on my first stop at Víkivaki I decided to change my old habits and allow the smiling saleslady make the pick.
“Want anything special?” she asked as I handed her 200 krónur. (For 200 krónur you get roughly about 200 grams of candy, but somehow the quantity varied quite a bit between shops… rarely did anyone use the scale.) Víkivaki doesn’t offer a great variety, and some of the candies weren’t the freshest found on my route, but I didn’t come out empty handed.
Picking out my favourites, I kept on walking up Laugavegur and went into Vínberið, a crowded candy store, with an inviting variety of fancy chocolates. There I had to queue in front of the self-serving candy bar as a group of kids were stuffing their bags. “You know, it’s 50% off on nammidagur (candy day) “ a small boy said to me, “so you get twice as much candy,” he continued with a big smile and swallowed a marshmallow.
It’s worth noting that many candy shops now have a discount on “bland í poka” during weekends, but unfortunately I picked the wrong day to go candy hunting. Although the bags at Vínberið are fancy and all, the portions aren’t large. Unsatisfied with my small amount, I decided to make a right turn and look for the candy shops in the small streets around Laugavegur.
Drekinn on Njálsgata was my first pick. Featuring a particularly yummy candy counter, with all kinds of sweets and loads of Icelandic specialties like “kúlusúkk”, “bombur” and lemon, cherry, liquorice flavoured bonbons. As I set of with a packed bag and a lollypop in my mouth, I decided that Drekinn has to be regarded as one of the tops in town, with great variety, tasty candy and fairly cheap compared to the others. Also on Njálsgata, Heimabíó offers a rather good candy selection although the quality is nothing above average. In Krambúðin, on the other hand, I got some delicious creamy caramels as I spotted the big selection of chocolates at the candy bar, offering everything you could dream of, even my favourite, peppermint chocolate-covered animals.
As the small lion melted in my mouth, I continued my walk to Aðalhotnið on Barónstígur, where chocolate frogs with green stuff inside are a recommended pick, and headed back on Laugavegur to the small shop Vitinn. While Vitinn offers the tastiest candies in Reykjavík, the size of the servings is a bit of a tease.
Finally, we got to the working man’s candy stores, the supermarket 11-11, where the candy bar was far from being desirable- the liquorice just plain yucky, and the caramel so old I spit it out before finishing. Located only minutes away, 10-11 gets a better grade, only because the selection was a little more inviting, but there you surely will not get the most for your money.
My last visit was Svarti Svanurinn where I ran out of my money, thankfully. As I tore the head of my giant gummy lizard I started to feel terrible, with a headache and my stomach in pain I crawled home in something of a drowse wandering if I truly had chewed on my last bit of candy.
Now, to my final verdict: For the tastiest sweets go to Vitinn, for the variety and quantity Drekinn is a shop where you’ll be stuffing your mouth and finally, for those who get a craving at 5 in the morning, 11-11 is always open and, at that time in the night, it really doesn’t matter what the candy tastes like, does it?
Drekinn, Njalsgata 23, 101 Reykjavík
Heimabíó, Njalsgata 49, 101 Reykjavík
Krambuðin, Skolaverðustígur 42, 101 Reykjavík
Svarti Svanurinn, Laugavegur 118, 105 Reykjavík
Vikivaki, Laugavegur 5, 101 Reykjavík
Vitinn, Laugavegur 62, 101 Reykjavík
Vínberið, Laugavegur 43, 101 Reykjavík
11-11, various locations.
10-11, various locations.