An old-fashioned candy shop is the last thing you’d expect to find tucked into a nondescript strip mall at the busy intersection of 13th Avenue South and 42nd Street in Fargo, but that’s just one of Sweet Dreams Confections’ many surprises.
Throw open the door and you’ll find a surprisingly sprawling space packed to the gills with unique gifts (including Pride of Dakota products from local chefs and artisans) and delicious things to eat.
Press your nose to the glass to see thick slabs of the shop’s legendary fudge and an array of handmade chocolates (including sugar-free varieties) stacked neatly in orderly rows.
Or grab your favorite bottle of soda from yesteryear (Bubble Up, anyone?) and wander the basket-lined aisles of bulk candy, running your fingers over the crinkly wrappers of individually wrapped taffies and butterscotch discs and Necco wafers.
Nostalgia is the secret ingredient in Sweet Dreams Confection’s formula and it’s just as sweet and addictive as the treats themselves.
My generation is probably the last to have dim memories of the candy aisle at the corner drug store and every time I wander into Sweet Dreams it always brings me back to when my dad let me pick out a couple pieces of candy after we drove to the next little town over to buy groceries or go to the dentist.
I can almost feel those individually wrapped Rollos burning a hole in my coat pocket, almost hear the gold wrapper crinkling between my fingers…
Lee Paseka, who owns the store with his wife Brenda, is one of the best parts of the shopping experience. Affable and kind, he’s quick to point out new offerings in the store and to encourage you to try their samples. (And they have a lot — a huge variety of the dips, breads, sauces and soups the store offers are available to try before you buy.)
But my favorite sample is, and always will be, their killer gelato.
Trained by a gelato master, Lee keeps over 200 (yes, you read that right, 200) gelato and sorbetto recipes in rotation in Sweet Dreams Confections’ cases and as far as I can tell, they’re all fabulous.
I haven’t had even an average sample yet and trust me, I’ve done some research. (It’s a tough gig, but somebody’s got to do it…)
There’re no artificial ingredients in any of their recipes and you can taste the quality. I was having a hard time deciding between this amazing looking Oreo flavor (which Lee described as “my version of an Italian mudslide”) and an intriguing vanilla bean/lemon cookie combo.
Lee nodded, as we both pondered my dilemma. “You know,” he said thoughtfully, without a trace of guile, “gelato has a third of the fat and calories of American ice cream so you can indulge without being indulgent.”
Aw, man….that’s exactly what my gelato-craving subconscious wanted to hear. Sold. “Sign me up for a double scoop,” I said. “You’re dangerous, sir.” He just smiled.
And P.S., they offer a free double scoop of gelato on your birthday. I was out of the country on my birthday this year and I actually thought about this deal, which tells you the depth of my gelato obsession.
I took my strange but delicious gelato combination back to a little bistro table, sipped hot cider (they also have a variety of baked goods, soup and sandwich lunches, coffee, tea and espresso drinks available, if you’re so inclined) and spent a few blissful minutes reading magazines, listening to the NDSU study group behind me discuss biology and boys and chatting about gelato with the retired couple next to me. (They hadn’t found a flavor they didn’t like yet either.)
And then I got up and bought more goodies to bring home, house made peanut butter cups and spicy North Dakota pretzels for my parents and a bottle of craft root beer for Derrick.
This place has got me right where they want me. And I’m totally cool with that.
Sweet Dreams Confections’
4101 13th Avenue South
Bus: Routes 15 and 16
Delivery and gift baskets available
Monday – Friday: 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Saturday: 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Sunday: Noon – 5 p.m.
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