"It's hard to do Sponge Candy wrong, and you can get a bag from a Wegmans bulk section that's roughly as good as from a specialty shop such as Alethea's or Watson's."
If you live in Buffalo or have read this site, you already know that the area has a signature chicken dish, sandwich, hot dog, pizza, and pastry. But did you know there's also a famous Buffalo candy? Here, it's known as Sponge Candy - chocolate on the outside, yellow crunchy sugar on the inside - and though it's not available in many parts of the United States, a highly similar version is sometimes found in the Northwest and Europe under different names.
The Story: For years, Buffalo natives have known it only as Sponge Candy, a roughly bite-sized square or rectangular box consisting of two essential elements: a semi-hard chocolate exterior, and a tougher, nearly brittle golden or orange sweet honeycomb interior. The interior's made from brown sugar, corn syrup, and/or molasses that have been chemically teased into a crystalline form, creating a crunching sound when bitten into. Thanks to Cadbury, British readers know the same general concept as the Crunchie bar, while those from the Northwestern United States - including patrons of the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory - may know it as Sea Foam. While others sell it in bar form, Buffalo Sponge Candy pieces vary in size from "fits in your mouth" to "requires a good bite in the center," but the first bite inevitably starts with the slight give of chocolate and ends with a crack as the honeycomb snaps apart, crumbling into your mouth. We're split between preferring milk chocolate or dark chocolate for the outside, but we can agree that the rarer orange chocolate version is comparatively unappealing.
Best Location: It's hard to do Sponge Candy wrong, and you can get a bag from a Wegmans supermarket's bulk section that's roughly as good as from a specialty shop such as Alethea's or Watson's. It's also likely to be cheaper, as Wegmans sells it in bulk. But the version from Alethea's tends to be smoother on the outside and easier to eat because of its smaller size, if a lot more expensive, at nearly a dollar per piece if purchased individually. The expensive Alethea's Sponge Candy is easy to find at the airport coming into or out of Buffalo, and the Watson's version does especially well on the milk chocolate, with pieces that vary in size but consistently impress on taste.
Worst Location: We haven't found a bad place for Sponge Candy yet, but there are times of year (Summer) when it's "out of season" at Wegmans and some other shops due to humidity levels in the air, which disintegrate the honeycomb interior. Alethea's continues to offer it, with a thicker chocolate coating to prevent it from melting internally.
Something You Mightn't Know: Sponge Candy is almost always brown on the outside and flavored in one of the three ways mentioned above - milk, dark, or orange chocolate. But a local shop called Palace of Sweets offers white chocolate sponge candy, as well as more than a dozen alternatively-flavored milk chocolate versions such as peppermint, peach, Kahlua coffee, and Irish cream. They're sold in small six-piece packs for $2.40 each.