When I saw the television commercial for Uncle Sam's Candy in Schenectady I thought they must be new. Then I saw their print ad in Capital Region Living, where it was noted that they were voted "Best Chocolate Shop in the Capital Region."
By who, I wondered. And, more importantly, as a hardcore chocolate lover -- why hadn't I heard of this place before?
Uncle Sam's Candy has actually been around for decades and was in fact recently voted Best Chocolate Shop by... Capital Region Living readers. It's really easy to find -- less than five minutes past Mohawk Commons, just off Rt 5 in Schenectady.
So, how'd I miss this place? I suspect it could be partially geography; living and working in Albany, I don't get to Schenectady very often. But overhearing other customers in the store while I was there, Uncle Sam's Candy certainly does have a local following. (Editors: hmm... what other very local treasures are we missing out on?)
In Uncle Sam's small cottage-like shop where Christmas carols played softly in the background, I found homemade molded chocolate in all kinds of shapes, something for just about everyone, plus dozens of kinds of hand-dipped chocolates. From chocolate Scottie dogs to sports cars to fishing tackle sets made of white chocolate (complete with gummy worms) and dark chocolate police officer kits (with chocolate handcuffs, natch), there are shelves and shelves of choices, seasonal (Christmas -- sleds and Santas and trees -- and Hanukkah -- dreidels and Stars of David), specialty (chocolate cigars in pink and blue in boxes of 24 for $12; plenty of sugar-free options), and old standards (1 lb. box of mixed chocolates gift-wrapped for $11.99).
You can get chocolate-covered Oreos, ribbon candy, specialty candy bars (#1 Teacher, #1 Mailman), chocolate crosses, and even chocolate poker chips. I don't think I've ever seen so many different kinds of molded candy. Hand-dipped chocolates are also available by the pound, so you can create your own perfect box. Just about everything is available as either milk, dark, or white chocolate.
So now that you know it all looks gorgeous, how does it taste? Owner Joe Suhrada was kind enough to give me a sample of the dark chocolate almond butter crunch -- and it was phenomenal; sweet and a little salty and comfortably crunchy (I didn't worry about losing a filling).
I bought a sample box of hand-dipped chocolates for taste-testing at home (my family members are such troopers...) and a bag of filbert snowballs.
The hand-dipped chocolates went over really well, with fillings like caramel, maple, mint, and chocolate, plus a couple of chocolate/nut clusters. Everything really had that homemade taste. The only drawback was that there wasn't any indication of what was in the box; to quote Forrest Gump, you never knew what you were going to get. The filbert snowballs are pure white sugar with a filbert nestled in the center; I have a serious sweet-tooth and even I was taken aback by how sweet they were. Not bad, but I don't think I could eat more than one.
Overall, Uncle Sam's Candy is well-worth a stop for all-American candy and an eclectic collection of seasonal and molded chocolate. Now I know why people are such fans.
Uncle Sam's Candy
2571 Albany St
Schenectady, NY 12304
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