Tubes filled with exotic candies stack high. A little girl closes her eyes and takes in a deep breath through her nose. A little boy moved like his knees were just hinges, wobbling to and from before falling on his padded bottom into a marshmallow pit. The smell of sweetness and chocolate, the sourness of a bag of ‘Sour Patch’ kids, and the spiciness of ‘Hot Tamales’ fill the air. A scooper of gummy worms is past the portrait of Cardi B made of jelly beans.
“Maybe you shouldn’t eat that one,” jokingly said one parent.
In a pink room filled with unicorn-pigs, each waring a gummy bear tutu, fart streams of confetti blasted out glistening colors reminiscent of sherbet lemons and strawberry lollipops. A little boy picks at the confetti, throws his head back, and giggles. His laughing was like a still pond after a stone had been thrown into it. It radiated outwards through the hall of children who had been quiet up until that moment.
The Aventura Mall is sharing some eye candy and actual candy with shoppers and visitors. The best part is visitors don’t need to search for a ‘Golden Ticket’ to gain access to the real-life ‘Willy Wonka’ world. Indulge your sweet tooth into the new exhibit, ‘Candytopia’.
The exhibit is curated by the star of TLC’s ‘Candy Queen’ Jackie Sorkin and the pop-up celebrates all sweet treats and artwork made of candy. Some of the artwork includes celebrity portraits such as Beyoncé, Marilyn Monroe, and Cardi B all made of candy. An example of this would be the Marilyn Monroe portrait that took the artists 22 hours to complete, a candy count of over three thousand pieces, and over one thousand grams of sugar.
The sugar spectacle first premiered in Santa Monica and had visitors from such celebrities as Drew Barrymore, James Corden, Christina Aguilera, and Wiz Khalifa.
One of the first things sugar seekers will see inside is a fun room with two big bouncing balls, lollipops, and a playground filled with giant daffodils with a press lever squirting the candy-flavored scent of ‘Nerds’, or like a ‘Tootsie Roll’.
Realtor T.J. McDonald took some time to put down his favorite chocolate candy bar ‘Kit-Kat’, and McDonald took his son Noah to ‘Candytopia’.
“People bring their kids here because it’s a family atmosphere and the Aventura Mall has a lot of people coming through here,” said McDonald. “It’s going to get a lot of traffic and people coming through just from the mall and the Miami location overall.”
‘Forbes’ named ‘Candytopia one of the best pop-up museums to visit in 2018. Miami seems like the perfect place to have this kind of exhibit, having formerly hosting other food-inspired pop-ups, exhibits, and events such as the ‘Museum of Ice Cream’ and Miami’s ‘Unicorn Factory’.
A waft of cotton candy drifted along in the air. The smell of caramelized sugar making mouths water can be smelt throughout the zebra-striped hallway walls. ‘Candytopia’ offers “Candy Facts” to go along with celebrity portraits and artwork. The portrait of the singer ‘Prince’ has over one thousand pieces of candy and over 600 grams of sugar. The ‘Statue of Liberty’ portrait contains 10 different types of candy and almost five thousand calories.
Many of the art installations are made from actual candy. But unlike ‘Willy Wonka’s’ lickable wallpaper, visitors, unfortunately, have to keep their hands and tongues to themselves. However, guests get samples of sweet treats such as chocolates and gummies.
A colossal of candy overflows a bucket and unicorn-pigs fly over a tsunami of marshmallows.
“Marshmallow pit, marshmallow pit, everybody get lit in the marshmallow pit,” sings ‘Candytopia’ employee Amber Buckley.
Buckley has been at the Miami ‘Candytopia’ location since they first opened in November.
“Even though this is a traveling thing this place [Aventura Mall] is the only place in South Florida that has this,” said Buckley. “Whether you’re a kid or grown the marshmallow pit is something you can enjoy, jump around in, and have fun.”
If you’re an adult, Buckley recommends coming before six o’clock on a weekday because there are less kids and it gives those who are older an opportunity to read and appreciate the ‘Candy Facts’.
The dark mouth melting chocolate with crackling hazelnuts under a little boy’s teeth leaves the irresistible taste of heaven and a smell sweeter than heaven. He bumps into one of the managers for ‘Candytopia’, Alexandria Stephan.
Stephan, who is a fan of ‘Tootsie Rolls’, mostly enjoys the ‘Wonderland’ section of ‘Candytopia’ for its props that visitors love to take pictures of.
“I like the Wonderland section because it has a lot of room to play like the swings and it’s interactive and people come and say how visually pleasing it is,” said Stephan. “People like seeing and taking pictures and I like how they took the classic ‘Scream’ painting photo and made it out of candy.”
Even though Stephan thinks ‘Baby Yoda’ is cutter than an Oompa Loompa, Stephan thinks it’s cute seeing all the kids enjoy the candy.
“I like seeing kids have fun in ‘Wonderland’ and the [Marshmallow] pit. If I were ‘Willy Wonka’ for a day I’d add the chocolate fountain to ‘Candytopia’,” said “But other than that, I like this place and it’s exactly the way it should be for everyone.”
It’s a sugar rush on steroids and ‘Candytopia’ is the ultimate candy-coated adventure. ‘Candytopia’ is a sweet treat that is now open at Aventura Mall, but you better indulge before it disappears. ‘Candytopia’ runs at Aventura Mall until January 26, 2020.
Pictures were taken by Nile Fortner (Dec. 17, 2019)