Life has always been sweet for Dylan Lauren, daughter of fashion icon Ralph Lauren and author Ricky Lauren, whose love of candy is enshrined within Dylan’s Candy Bar emporiums from East Hampton to Houston.
Fans of sweet treats will have the opportunity to meet Lauren when the candy queen appears for a book signing at Neiman Marcus from noon to 2 p.m. Sunday. She’ll be in the Level Three Epicure department, where those with a sweet tooth will find a sampling of what’s available in her New York City flagship store, which boasts 7,000 candies from around the world, candy-inspired fashion, a cafe serving baked treats and gourmet ice cream, and a candy-cocktail bar.
In a phone interview, Lauren said she became fascinated with candy while watching "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" as a child.
"I loved the lollipop tree, the chocolate river, the whole idea of being a small kid in a giant fantasy land of candy," she says with the breathless, chirpy, amped-up energy of someone on a sugar rush. "That’s what I wanted to create when I started Dylan’s Candy Bar."
MEET DYLAN LAUREN
» When: Noon to 2 p.m. Sunday
Although her parents taught her the beauty of moderation, Halloween was one of her favorite times of year, "for sure, as far as anything goes." On that night, she could eat as many of the treats she collected as she desired.
Some of her favorites are Marshmallow Fluff and candy corn, and when informed she may be the only one who likes candy corn, she reacts with a surprised, "Really?"
To her, there’s no such thing as bad candy, although she does draw the line at chocolate-covered insects popular in some parts of the world. Technically, an insect isn’t candy, after all.
Lauren said it was never her destiny to join her father’s global company. As an art history major at Duke University, "I did a lot of design and always wanted to do my own thing."
She never outgrew her fascination with candy, and incorporated M&Ms and gumballs into her artwork. At the time, she also studied abroad and became fascinated by the candies of other cultures. She said she was surprised by the salty flavors of those she found in Japan and enthralled by their colorful pop wrappers.
"I started collecting them. Believe it or not, I still have candy from 10 years ago."
She’s now sharing her "candy-centric" approach to life through her timely book, "Dylan’s Candy Bar: Unwrap Your Sweet Life" (Clarkson Potter, $35), which features candy recipes, trivia and candy craft ideas heading into the holiday season, with ideas for every special occasion.
For the harried hostess, she said candy provides an easy solution for decorating, gift-giving and entertaining.
"Using candy as a gift works for anyone, at any age. It’s a sure way to put a smile on people’s faces because everyone loves candy. It’s affordable luxury that’s also fun," she says.
And decorating is as simple as filling vases with a colorful assortment of gummy bears and jelly beans that might replicate the colors of flowers on a table.
Although her tabletop-sized gingerbread house kits are among the items available at Neiman Marcus, she came up with the ultimate gingerbread house for the retailer’s 2010 Christmas Book’s Fantasy Gifts section.
Revisiting her childhood fantasy of being surrounded by candy, she created a 6-foot-6-inch-tall Gingerbread Playhouse, handcrafted of 381 pounds of gourmet gingerbread and 517 pounds of icing adorned with giant cookies, lollipops, gummies, mints and gumdrops. Recalling Willy Wonka’s world, there’s also a lollipop tree inside.
The playhouse is priced at $15,000.
If you still think candy is just for kids, she says the average age of those shopping at her New York City emporium is 27. "Adults love it and the typical person spends 45 minutes looking, because we have candy clothing and candy jewelry. There’s really something for everyone."