LIHUE — Those seeking a boost of nostalgia need only visit Rice Street’s newest addition to get a taste of days past.
Sweetalicious, the candied brain-child of local, Donovan Pegeder, features a range of treats dating back to 1924.
Upon entering the bubblegum-pink coated shop, proprietor Donovan Pegeder explains how to eat Nik-L-Nip candy to a few young customers. In his youth, the waxen bottles of flavored syrup often served as the incongruous protectors of braces or stand-in nail polish once their saccharine contents were consumed.
“Don’t eat the wax,” he advised with a signature beaming smile. “Chew it to extract all the candy juice, then you can play with it.”
Pegeder, born and raised on Kauai, conceptualized Sweetalicious in 2015 hoping to create something fun and unexpected in his community. On May 7, the restaurant industry veteran and former cashier at the Butcher and the Fisherman opened the doors to his old school candy counter.
With the support of his family, the storefront is now Pegeder’s full-time occupation, which he manages in addition to DMD Productions, a pageant system operated in tandem with sisters, Dori and Malisa.
As Sweetalicious’ sole employee, he is happy to “start simple and see where it goes,” and for now, the storefront showcases enough sugared memories to make anyone born before the millennia wistful.
During a discussion of 1980’s cartoons, customers browse over the wholesome selection of Necco Wafers, Boston Baked Beans, and Choward’s Violet Mints, while a carton of not-quite-PC candy cigarettes raises a few eyebrows and redolent laughs.
As Mr. Pegeder brings out his oldest candy, Kits, a banana- or vanilla-flavored taffy from 1924, he confesses that his favorite is the coconut and peanut butter Chick-o-Stick.
Among the recognizable references of Pop Rocks and Haribo Gummies are more unfamiliar options: Rice Candy, Li Hing Plum Candy, and Haw Flakes. Sweetalicious also stocks dried fruits and seed products, which sell out quickly.
“A lot of kids don’t know these candies. It’s the adults who love it,” Pegeder says, recalling the numerous cavities of his youth. “They act like kids themselves, saying ‘Oh my God I remember that!’”
Sweetalicious is a cash-only establishment at 4347 Rice Street, Suite 107 and welcomes customers Monday to Thursday 11 a.m. to 5, and Friday and Saturday 11 to 7.