To say we've all had a hard time lately might be an understatement beyond measure, but there has never been a shortage of reasons why you deserve a treat. Luckily the St. John's area has a fantastic selection of all things sweet from pastries filled with curd to Instagram-worthy mile-high milkshakes.
Here's where to satisfy your sweet tooth in St. John's.
The candy crushes
When I was growing up, a rite of passage was going to the corner store for penny candy on your own for the first time. Loonie gripped in my palm, I walked to the store up the street to choose from that clear acrylic house filled with candy. I felt like a millionaire.
Sadly, the beloved one-cent candy has gone by the wayside in most convenience stores across the city, but there are some shops still devoted to gummy worms, sour treats and brightly coloured confectionery. While mass-market mainstays like Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory and Laura Secord have been offering up chocolatey contentment for years, these candy shops offer up a whole lot of delicious.
The nostalgia factor is on overdrive at this snack shop. Underground Snax opened its second location, at 174 Water St., last year after owner Evan Humber found success in Halifax with his first location. Unique snacks and drinks from all over the world like spicy Cheetos from Japan and at least two dozen types of cereal that would be a dentist's nightmare. There are also hard-to-get treats like Chubby soda, brownie-filled Oreos and Dunakroos, elusive since their '90s heyday.
Another Halifax transplant, this bright and colourful candy store brightens up its part of Water Street. It sells nostalgic favourites like Fun Dip and Laffy Taffy, along with UK chocolates and hard-to-get Crush pop flavours like peach. An ever-rotating selection of new sweets like Skittles gummies, white chocolate KitKats and Sriracha chocolate bars are up for grabs.
Mother's Cupboard Candy & Bake Shoppe
Walking into Mother's Cupboard on McNamara Drive in Paradise, you can smell what it does before you see it. The smells of chocolate and fresh pastries waft through to the parking lot of this newly opened business — husband and wife owners Andrew and Kayla Bowen opened in June. In addition to housemade eclairs, macarons and apple flips, they also make handmade gummy worms and chocolate-coated sponge. This past Easter they took social media by storm with their giant chocolate eggs for Easter filled with handmade candies and gummies. Cracking them open is half the fun.
Newfoundland Chocolate Company
The beloved Newfoundland Chocolate company has been the go-to stocking stuffer and wedding favour for years now with its large selection of handmade chocolate treats. Their newest location on Torbay Road opened in 2019 with a big chocolate fountain and new products like Newfoundland Chocolate Style Fish n' Chips with milk chocolate capelins swimming in a basket of kettle-cooked potato chips drizzled with chocolate. There's also a new patio where you can enjoy their rich hot chocolate and housemade gelato in the sunshine.
The baked delights
St. John's has a long love affair with baking; it's such an ingrained part of our culture and community. Most people know and love their favourites, like Rocket Bakery, Sugar Mama's, Tilt House Bakery and Manna's European Bakery & Deli, which have dominated the sweet treat scene for years. And in addition to social media moguls like Best Kind Bakeshoppe and Petite Sweet, there is a whole new group of home bakers selling their tasty goods on Facebook and Instagram. Here are some of the best in the city.
This Icelandic bakery hit the sweet scene in 2016 with its first location on Torbay Road selling artisan bread and Scandinavian treats. Owner Krista Neville's second location, on Bond Street, also pumps out fresh bread on the regular, in addition to treats like Boston cream croissants, cookie tacos — Instagram-worthy cookie sandwiches pumped with brightly coloured buttercream — and chocolate geo hearts for Valentine's Day.
Old Dublin Bakery
This roving bake shop has a cult following in St. John's. While we all wait for the standalone location to open at 203 Merrymeeting Rd., owner Kevin Massey has been parking at Churchill Square three days a week. From his famous cookies, cinnamon buns and croissants, to cakes, and pies like a strawberry meringue, patrons know to act fast because there's always a lineup for Old Dublin's treats.
While Toslow started as a bar serving up unique natural wines and cocktails in a nook adjacent to the war memorial on Duckworth Street in 2018, they've garnered loyal fans with their sandwiches and baked goods. Since moving across the street to 108 Duckworth, the kitchen has been able to stretch its legs serving up an amped-up menu of inspired pastries like everything from bagel danishes to raspberry hibiscus curd brioche, not to mention daily doughnut flavours like tiramisu and blackcurrant jam.
Someone finally heard my periodic lamenting on Twitter about the need for a doughnut shop in the city. Now we have a pop-up shop. Owner Alexandria Nash started the company as a tribute to her late father who loved doughnuts, and so does St. John's: Burchie's Donuts popped up at Chinched for the first time earlier this year with a lineup around the block. In addition to cookie monster, fruity pebbles and maple bacon treats, Nash's latest creation is the new fave: a yeast doughnut dipped in vanilla pink glaze and covered in delicious birthday cake crumble.
The cold confections
Sunny days are coming even if it doesn't feel like it. Generations of ice cream slurpers have enjoyed Moo Moo's Ice Cream and Berg's Famous Ice Cream (which reopened for the summer at the end of March) every summer for decades, but now there's a whole new wave of chilled treats to dive into this summer.
The Parlour Gelato + Coffee
One of the newest kids on the block, the Parlour, is one of the busiest. Sitting on Military Road across the street from Bannerman Park, there has almost always been a lineup since the place was opened by Laura Bloomquist and Gary Long in 2019. They sell housemade gelato with unique flavours like passionfruit avocado, strawberry pepper and coconut crème brûlée along with baked goods and coffee.
Tinkers Ice Cream Shop
What's a summer drive without ice cream dripping down your arm? Those in the know head to Tinkers in Petty Harbour. Todd and Angela Chafe opened their ice cream shop in 2018, and their iconic Freakshakes with mountains of candy accoutrements are piled high — like the salted caramel cheesecake Freakshake with a salted caramel base, a cheesecake skewer, a Turtles caramel cookie, caramel ice cream cone, pretzel and popcorn pieces and caramel sauce — have been dominating local Instagram feeds every summer.
Located inside Waterford Plaza on Topsail Road, Saltwater is a one-stop-shop. On one side, Caitlin Noseworthy's clothing shop sells its iconic graphic tees and accessories, and on the other, the creamery pumps out frozen Caramel Log hot chocolates, Dole Whips, bubble tea, and is one of few shops in the province to serve Dippin' Dots, the fantastical little spheres of ice cream.
This artisanal ice cream business started last year scooping cones from a bright-pink vintage ice cream bicycle cart owner Elizabeth Dicks has affectionately named Bizzy Lizzy. Newfoundland flavours like bakeapple, blueberry and Nan's Garden (a strawberry-rhubarb blend) dominate the menu. Over the winter Dicks has been pumping out beautiful ice cream cakes with bright icing combinations or encased in bubbly Belgian chocolates, along with batch buckets of ice cream and ice cream sandwiches, but Bizzy Lizzy is set to hit the road on the May long weekend.