The unexpected aroma of chocolate is the first thing I notice when I step into .
I had imagined walls of sugary stations filled with jelly beans separated by color, gummies in a variety of animal shapes and other sweet treats.
Instead, the walls are covered with hundreds of plastic molds in different designs: everything from romantic roses and rubber duckies, toys (Legos or handcuffs, depending on your sense of humor) and objects for nearly every holiday (Valentine’s Day, Easter, Hanukah).
An electronic bell rings when walk through the door, and I’m happily greeted by Debi Hernandez.
“Have you been here before?” she asks. I tell her this is my first time in the store, despite living just down the street.
She gives me a run-down of how the “factory” works: You pick chocolates in your favorite color, then an optional flavor (cinnamon, maple and lemon are just a few), and finally, a mold of your choice.
Hernandez offers me a taste of white chocolate with pieces of hard cherry candy, and my sweet tooth forces me to accept. I’ve never had anything like it, I tell her. I’m tempted to stick my hand back into the jar for more, but I remind myself that chocolate doesn’t count as lunch.
The store has been in Valley Village for over 30 years, she tells me. The current owner, Frank Sheftel, bought the business in the early ’90s and has been creating crazy confections ever since.
The store is most known for having made the wedding favors for Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley, Hernandez tells me. Some of their creations got the store in legal trouble in the past – once, Sheftel made chocolate versions of a well-known award statue for a party, she says, but was forced to stop. He once recreated a bitten auricle after one controversial boxer took a bite out of his opponent, but production had to end for that, too.
On the afternoon that I visit, I’m too baffled by a giant chocolate bunny to realize the side table behind it isn't actually made of wood, but of chocolate.
Hernandez tells me they can pretty much make anything from sweet substance. Just this Valentine’s Day, the store was commissioned by The Talk morning show to create a giant table for the hosts. She urges me to look it up online, and when I do, I find a YouTube video of Sheftel showing off the edible hand-made furniture.
Candy Factory doesn’t only cater to the stars – The store regularly hosts candy-making parties for children’s birthdays, and anyone can walk in and purchase candies or molds.
Hernandez and I realize we’re literally neighbors – We both just live a few doors down on a nearby street. Since I’m so close, she tells me I should stop by again when they’re having a chocolate-making class.
I check the time and realize lunchtime is over, but I vow to return to find out more about the Factory’s inner workings and to meet its famous candy man.
is located at 12508 Magnolia Boulevard in Valley Villag Business hours Tuesdays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The store is closed Sundays and Mondays.