It’s sweet. It’s interactive. It’s playful. It’s sensory-overload. It’s Candytopia, the latest experiential shopping exhibition to hit Atlanta. Candytopia brings the quintessential childhood fantasy of a candy-coated world to life. It’s located at EDENS Lenox Marketplace in Buckhead, which opened last month.
Candytopia is appealing for both kids and adults who appreciate the sweeter side of life, said Jackie Sorkin, a global candy artist. She created the exhibition with co-founders Zac Hartog, an events and production design expert, and John Goodman, a retail veteran.
“I watched ‘Willie Wonka and The Chocolate Factory’ and was raised on the movie and the principles in the movie of dream big and be a good person,” Sorkin said. “You can be a little crazy and your dreams can come true. I watched it so much I made it come true for myself.”
Candytopia Atlanta features all the popular attractions from its locations in New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Miami, with new additions for Atlanta visitors. There are candy portraits of Real Housewives of Atlanta’s NeNe Leakes and Kim Zolciak; a candy portrait tribute to Ray Charles; and a giant candy-coated Georgia peach.
“There were cities we wanted to go to, and Atlanta was on the top of our list,” Goodman said.
The exhibition includes more than a dozen rooms of candy-made installations, including a marshmallow swimming pool with half a million foam marshmallows and Kraft Jet-Puffed Marshmallow samples; an underwater-themed room with candy covered sea creatures; a rainbow room with flying unicorn pigs, confetti explosions and Trolli Twisted Sour Brite Crawlers gummy samples.
Celebrities such as Drew Barrymore, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jessica Biel, Bruce Willis, Adam Sandler, Kevin Durant, Josh Duhamel, Christina Aguilera, James Corden, Wiz Khalifa, Hilary Duff and Alessandra Ambrosio have all visited the mini theme park. It’s the most “magical place” said Goodman, former CEO of Charlotte Russe and Wet Seal. He got involved with the project after seeing the candy portraits done by Sorkin and her team. After running the numbers, he felt like it was his destiny.
“This is just the most magical place. We just bring happiness to people for an hour or so and you can’t stop smiling,” he said. “It’s all ages, and by the time people get to the third room, they can’t stop smiling.”
Each location is blessed by Rabbi Zalman Shneur, executive director of Menachem Education Foundation, and offers kosher candy, an important part of the experience, Goodman said. In New York City, Candytopia includes a kosher table with chocolates and taffy. He plans to welcome the Chasidic community in Atlanta, after receiving such great feedback in New York.
“Every holiday like Purim the Chasidic community was there. The community really embraced us and had fun,” Goodman said. “The rabbi showed me pictures of him and his family and it was really special.”
Sorkin is the daughter of immigrants. Her father is an Argentinian Russian Jew and her mother is Mexican. Both were hardworking immigrants, which often led to Sorkin being home alone.
“I was the typical latchkey kid,” she said.
She comforted herself with food early on, and by the time she was 12 she was enrolled in Camp Pennbrook in Pennsylvania, a weight loss camp for teens. When she attended the camp, Sorkin finally felt like she belonged, she said. There she began to cultivate a healthier relationship with food and with herself. Now, she’s dedicated to bringing sweetness to as many people as possible.
“Candy was taken away from me as a kid, and I loved it so much that now I turned candy into a life for myself,” she said. “The same feeling of belonging I had at Camp Pennbrook is what makes Candytopia this incredible place where everyone belongs. I love that through candy, which is my medium, we’ve created this incredible place. We have lightning in a bottle, and this is magic we’ve captured.”
Candytopia is at Lenox Marketplace, 3535 Peachtree Road NE, Buckhead, through June 3. Tickets are $28 for adults, $20 for children four to 12 and free for children 3 and younger. For more information, visit Candytopia.com