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NYC’s hottest nightlife scene is a literal candy shop

The cool kids are in the candy store.

BonBon, a Swedish confectionery on the Lower East Side that’s open until midnight, has become an unlikely nightlife hot spot.

“Last week, we came here instead of going to the bars,” said Katie Miller, 23, who works in e-commerce. “It’s a great Saturday night.”

BonBon, a Swedish confectionery on the Lower East Side that’s open until midnight, has become an unlikely nightlife hot spot. Stephen Yang
BonBon, a Swedish confectionery on the Lower East Side that’s open until midnight, has become an unlikely nightlife hot spot. Stephen Yang
A dedicated “candy bouncer” named Sage manages the line at BonBon. Stephen Yang
A dedicated “candy bouncer” named Sage manages the line at BonBon. Stephen Yang

This past Saturday, a gaggle of 20-somethings dressed in knee-high boots and black leather miniskirts queued up outside the pink storefront, eager to get in. A dedicated “candy bouncer” named Sage managed the line as Britney Spears’ “Toxic” blared from inside.

“Saturday night is the rowdiest it gets – like a rowdy, drunk party,” Sage, 28, said. “It’s fun.”

BonBon has been around for years but it’s suddenly having a moment thanks to TikTok and its social media-friendly pink shopping bags.

“Last week we came here instead of going to the bars,” said Katie Miller (left), 23, who was at BonBon with friends Claire Kemble (center), 23, and Maggie Hennessee (right), 23. Stephen Yang
“Last week we came here instead of going to the bars,” said Katie Miller (left), 23, who was at BonBon with friends Claire Kemble (center), 23, and Maggie Hennessee (right), 23. Stephen Yang
This past Saturday, a gaggle of 20-somethings queued up outside the pink storefront, eager to get in Stephen Yang
This past Saturday, a gaggle of 20-somethings queued up outside the pink storefront, eager to get in Stephen Yang

“It’s been chaos lately,” an assistant manager named Sophie told The Post. “We’re firing on all cylinders nearly all the time. It’s exhausting.”

Roughly 10 customers are allowed inside the tiny shop at a time. They’re given sanitized scoops and set free to pick and mix from among colorful bins of Rambo Watermelon Sours, White Chocolate Licorice Marbles, Berry Bites and fruity Bubs brand chews — the holy grail of Swedish candy.

“They’re a texture that’s not a marshmallow or gummy, but foam – so they’re right in between,” said BonBon COO Sara Ciliberto. “They’re so intriguing.”

Scandi candy is made with real sugar, not high fructose corn syrup, which, some say, makes it superior to domestic treats. Stephen Yang
Scandi candy is made with real sugar, not high fructose corn syrup, which, some say, makes it superior to domestic treats. Stephen Yang
Madie Darbonne was excited to pick out her candy. Stephen Yang
Madie Darbonne was excited to pick out her candy. Stephen Yang

The shop’s Swedish co-founder, Robert Persson, 40, admitted that some customers are clearly inebriated as they scoop their candy, which is priced at $18 per pound.

“The boozy people spend more money, no shame,” Persson said. Then, “You have the stoners – they can spend $150, so you know they’re smoking something. They fill up the big bag – they don’t stop. Or they’ll take forever in the store, just staring.”

But, some people are looking for nothing more than a sugar high.

“This is our plan for the night,” Battery Park-based Riane Puno, 27, told The Post outside the sweet boutique on Saturday. “This is enough of a night for me.”

Riane Puno (from left), Madie Darbonne and Amy Pincus wait in line. Stephen Yang
Riane Puno (from left), Madie Darbonne and Amy Pincus wait in line. Stephen Yang

She and two well-heeled friends clutched pink bags of sugary booty.

“We justified spending the money on a drink on this instead,” said Puno’s friend, Amy Pinkus, 28, of her $26 purchase.

BonBon, which also has locations in Williamsburg and on the Upper East Side, imports 12 tons of goodies from Sweden every three weeks to keeps its bins stocked.

Persson said the fact that the Scandi candy is made with real sugar, not high fructose corn syrup, makes it superior to domestic treats.

Gummies, licorice and the like have a unique place in Swedish culture. Children go to the candy store every Saturday and spend the day feasting on sugary treats, a practice known as lördagsgodis, which translates to “Saturday sweets.” Stephen Yang
Gummies, licorice and the like have a unique place in Swedish culture. Children go to the candy store every Saturday and spend the day feasting on sugary treats, a practice known as lördagsgodis, which translates to “Saturday sweets.” Stephen Yang

“It tastes so good,” said Haley Alpert, a 27-year-old from the East Village who visited the shop last Saturday night with her boyfriend — after calling ahead to make sure her favorite Bubs treats were in stock. “I don’t want normal American candy anymore.”

Gummies, licorice and the like have a unique place in Swedish culture. Children go to the candy store every Saturday and spend the day feasting on sugary treats, a practice known as lördagsgodis, which translates to “Saturday sweets.” The practice dates back to the 1950s when health authorities recommended concentrating treat consumption into a single day to limit tooth decay.

“It’s a whole culture of candy that’s blown up [here] – and I think it started with BonBon,” said Alpert.

“I don’t want normal American candy anymore,” said Haley Alpert, who visited BonBon with boyfriend Adam Siff. Stephen Yang
“I don’t want normal American candy anymore,” said Haley Alpert, who visited BonBon with boyfriend Adam Siff. Stephen Yang

As midnight nears, sugar fiends are desperate for a fix. Customers have been known to show up in their pajamas in an Uber just before the clock strikes 12, according to Ciliberto.

BonBon also delivers via apps such as Seamless and Door Dash. Even on the busiest nights, turning off the apps is a no-no, Persson said. The phone will just ring off the hook with hungry customers.

“It’s like the crack is gone. It’s like selling drugs – they’re addicted,” he said. “Thank goodness, this is a positive thing.”