Between a park, a Jo-Ann fabric store, and a library in Ballard, the space Sweet Mickey's inhabits is ideal for a candy store. A mural of sweets swirls near the door. Glass cases lining the store's mint-green interior contain every imaginable hard candy and some unimaginable gummy candies—including gummy dentures and gummy army men.

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Presiding over this edible rainbow is a portrait of Grandma Mickey, owner Randy Brinker's real-life grandma and his candy-loving inspiration. A former Dell technology salesman, Randy—who was wearing an apron with "Candy Randy" embroidered on it when I met him—lives directly above the shop, and says he has considered cutting a hole in the floor so that he can slide down a fireman pole to work. "The kids would love that," he said. "The building owners, perhaps not."

The array of samples he gave me included sunflower seeds with colorful chocolate shells and "Razzles," which transform from fruity, powdery candy discs to gum as you chew. I blurted out, "It tastes like turkey!" through a mouthful of "Double Salt" black licorice, purely out of confusion. The star of the show was an exceptionally rich salted caramel from Seattle Sweets & Company, which also makes toppings for Sweet Mickey's (Bluebird) ice cream. When the weather gets colder, the same company will provide chocolate for a Sweet Mickey's hot cocoa bar, serving dark, milk, and mint hot chocolate. recommended