Sugar and Spice

A Mexican candy superstore for offbeat Halloween treats

Standard Halloween candy–Starbursts and Tootsie Pops dumped out of a jumbo bag–doesn't always fit the bill. For an adventurous soul with a need for outside-the-box, Technicolor sweets, there's one place to go for the season's sugary stock-up: Dulcelandia, aka Mexican Candyland.

The selection isn't so much highbrow sugary treats as it is colorful candy kitsch in an array of flavors, shapes and sizes, individually wrapped and perfect for Halloween purposes.

One of the prevailing flavors is chile. Bins of paletas (lollipops) hold piña loca (pineapple-chile), pica pepino (cucumber-chile) and even corncob-shaped elotes suckers flavored with strawberry and chile. Funky paper-thin, foot-long lollipops–peel off the plastic and fold them like Fruit Roll-Ups–come in chile-spiked strawberry, watermelon and citrus flavors ($2 for 40–to give a sense of the prices).

Tamarind is another common theme: There are at least 15 iterations of the tamarind-chile combination (try the rellerindos, small, tamarind, pod-shaped hard candies with liquid tamarind centers).

Dulcelandia carries more natural Mexican sweets as well, like De La Rosa peanut marzipan, biznaga (sugar-coated cactus) and cubes of chewy guava paste.

Each of the eight stores in and around Chicago has hundreds of candies, all imported from Mexico, all guaranteed to give a decidedly different sugar rush.