Remember that childhood rhyme? “I’ve got a rocket in my pocket, I cannot stop to play…” That rhyme became the basis for the Dr. Seuss parody “A Wocket in my Pocket” and both are testaments to the frivolity of childhood.
Those rhymes, and my own youth, were on replay in my brain the other day as I strolled Rocket Fizz on Broadway, a soda pop and candy shop that adds new meaning to “retro.”
A narrow space wedged between Laguna Drug and Dolce Gelato, nostalgic kitschy merchandise is packed high and low and features sodas of every possible flavor as well as an impressive variety of candies. Imagine your favorite candy bar as a child and I’m pretty sure you will find it here. Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews was one of my standbys, and here it is, as well as real Snocaps, Red Vines, Whoppers, and 100 Grand bar. Want a Pez? Look no further. You’ll find an assortment of chewy candies as well.
At the corner candy store in my neighborhood in the Bronx, they made sodas on order out of syrup and seltzer, and the man at the counter let me spray the fizz myself, but one cannot have everything.
Complementing the décor, and for sale, is a display of replicas of film and concert posters and decorative tin wall hangings. Look closely and you might find a metal lunch box featuring Elvis doing the “Jailhouse Rock.” The only thing missing is a hula hoop!
The idiosyncratic shop is spreading fast across country, and is already in San Clemente and Irvine Spectrum. Laguna’s Rocket Fizz is subtitled “Under the Sea” by franchisee Mark McLaughlin, who says he had no problems with city permits despite being a chain and despite its proximity to the neighboring long-established Forest Avenue sweet shop, Candy Baron.
McLaughlin gave up a 30-year filmmaking career in Los Angeles to relocate closer to his family. He was inspired by his brother’s shop in Boulder, Colo., where he grew up. “I’ve always had an interest in collectibles and comics, but when I was a kid, Seven-11 was the place to be.”
McLaughlin is an active manager and his associate, Allison, dug through the inventory to find me a bottle of Dr. Brown’s diet black cherry soda that made my heart sing. McLaughlin plans to host tastings soon with outrageous soda flavors like cucumber or PB&J. And chocolate, of course. He looks forward to the summer season, hoping to attract a steady stream of traffic. He enjoys chatting with his new neighbors who stop by on their dog walks, patrons of all types and ages, he says, and there is indeed something for everyone here.
Rocket Fizz produces its own line of specialty sodas and also features ginger beers and brands like Moxie and RC, all packaged in bottles, yes, bottles, no plastics. You’ll need a bottle opener.
You’ll also want to check your pocketbook first. There is a price to be paid for nostalgia, but worth it for the comfort value, and perhaps to encourage other fun retailers to town.
Randy Kraft is a freelance writer who previously covered the city for the Indy and pens the OC BookBlog for www.ocinsite.com. Her first novel “Colors of the Wheel” will be published this month. www.randykraftwriter.com.