Alan and Cynthia Levenson, owners of the new candy shop Sugar High, located in the Home Depot plaza on West Main Road, have been satisfying sweet tooths for 35 years.
“I used to be young,” joked Mr. Levenson when he reflected how long he has been in the candy business.
He said when he first started a shop that offered tubes of candy, self-service was still a new concept. Although it is common to find in stores today, prepackaged sweets and bars were once the only option.
“People would drive hours just to see it,” said Levenson.
Four years ago, the Levensons moved to Portsmouth from southern California for their children’s school, . They opened a candy airplane-shaped kiosk at TF Green Airport to provide self service candy to travelers.
The couple said the commute and the airport schedule was demanding, which required them to be open 365 days per year.
“We wanted to be together,” said Mrs. Levenson. They had been looking for a spot on the island, and when Cappuccinos closed they grabbed the space.
Although the family had looked for a location in Portsmouth, they said the regulations with the septic systems would had added too much upfront cost.
They liked the central location in Middletown, the availability of parking and since it was already a bakery, they could open Sugar High with lower start-up expenses.
The opening day was April 11, and the couple said so far they have been pleased with sales. The young customers are equally as excited.
Three-year-old Nadia McCarthy from Middletown said her favorite were the candy circles.
"They taste like sour lemonade," she said after she popped one in her mouth. Her brother Aidan said his favorite was the green turtle.
"It can't swim though," he said regrettably. "Because it's in my mouth."
The couple said their target audience is children, since there are plenty of high-end candy stores downtown Newport that cater to adults. Parents may be surprised that there is plenty to choose from besides candy, including low-fat frozen yogurts, plump muffins, specialty coffees and milkshakes.
“We do it like an ice cream company, we completely infuse it,” said Mr. Levenson. He said the difference is that some places will only line the ice cream with the flavor, so you can always taste the base vanilla.
At Sugar High, a chocolate will taste like a chocolate, said the candy guru.
Perhaps the most unsuspecting item on the menu is the exotic jerky. Customers can chose between wild boar, alligator, ostrich or yam, all made without preservatives.
The couple said the jerky is a popular choice for Father’s Day gifts.
They also offer handmade, colorful gift packages that can be shipped to any state.
Sugar High is open seven days a week between the hours of 9 a.m. and 9 p.m.
[Editor's note: Mr. Levenson suggested he let my taste buds speak for themselves. He handed me a frozen yogurt, infused with German Chocolate flavor. I don't have much of a sweet tooth, so the portion first appeared overwhelming. Before the interview was over, I was scraping the bottom of the bowl. I will be back for more!]