The jelly bean display. Photo by Maria Kalaitzandonakes
The jelly bean display. Photo by Maria Kalaitzandonakes
The jelly bean display at the Candy Factory.
Photo by Maria Kalaitzandonakes

Spring is here.

The pitter-pattering of the rain has begun to hit my windows every morning. And I lull myself to sleep with quiet french songs, cuddled up in the nook of easy chair with a worn out Harry Potter novel. It’s the time for freshly-cut flowers, playing frisbee in the park and chocolate-covered strawberries.

It is the perfect season for a journey to the corner of Cherry St., to the Candy Factory, the sweetest destination in town.

The green rounded awning welcomes you and transports you to some old forgotten day. Inside, the wooden counters shine, and the glass display cases glisten. But the look of the store is not important: it’s the smell. Somehow, the thick Missouri spring air gets in and mixes with the heavy tones of chocolate, butterscotch and icing. It’s this delightful amalgam of fresh and sweet. It makes you focus on your breathing, each breath seeming to say, “Inhale, this is where I belong. Exhale, I’m never leaving.”

Walk around for a second in this store and you’ll be overwhelmed by all of the delicious options. Candy Lego blocks, chocolate covered Oreos, jelly beans, chocolate potato chips, truffles and really anything you can imagine.

Easter may be gone, and with it all the peeps and chocolate bunnies have left, but spring itself is a holiday. We survived another Missouri winter, and for that, you deserve a treat.

And if you’re a Columbian, you have been to the top level of the Candy Factory. It is Willy Wonka’s home away from home, his little hideaway when he needs to come to Columbia to watch the Tigers. It’s gumdrop city, strawberry-clouded, liquorice-lined.

The workers behind the class wave a happy good morning, and you rest for a spring moment on the bendy bench and take the hardiest of bites of your purchase from downstairs.

The calming, too-sweet taste of chocolate mixes with the tart strawberry, and it all settles on my expectant tongue — a spring serenade.

I flip the worn page of Prisoner of Azkaban and pop another one in. Mmmmm.

By Maria Kalaitzandonakes


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“See zos chickens?” her old Greek grandfather would say pointing to the pigeons, “all of zos are yours.” Growing up, all little girls think they’re princesses. But Maria’s kingdom never had a prince, never a castle. She reigned over her “chickens” and olive trees. Yup, it was all Greek to her. Rules in this kingdom were strict. Only A’s in school. No sleepovers. No painting the walls. In pre-school the teachers had her hearing tested three times, thinking that her piercingly loud voice must come from some sort of deafness. Maria, herself, never realized her life was odd until grade school, when the very American idea of “personal bubble space” puzzled her. And when physically unable to abide by the “arm’s length apart rule” Maria’s teacher gave her a hula hoop, which she had to walk around with as to not disrupt anyone’s personal space. When a little boy bothered her in middle school, Maria’s hot temper (Greek Blood as Maria’s father called it), got the best of her, and she yelled out a curse “gammoto!” and punched him in the face. In high school she embraced the crooked nose, the Christmas boat and the five gallon olive oil tin in her pantry. When Maria’s grandfather first saw a squirrel he said, “See zos fings” pointing to the unknown animal, “Do not be afraid of zem. You are a Greek, baby.” And with that, she had confidence in her future, as a non-squirrel fearing Greek princess. Maria is also the editor in chief for "The Rock" and "Southpaw". You can contact me at



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