Ye Olde Pepper Candy Companie, Salem
What’s Unique: This is the first company to sell candy commercially in the US, and they still make the Gibralters and Black Jacks that won fans in the early 18th century. Chocolates, fudge, and taffy hearken hark back to favorite recipes too.
What’s Unique: There are modern treats too, like popcorn pizzas—popcorn rounds topped with a selection of sweet goodies—that come in a mini pizza box.
Fun Fact: The chocolate and nut turtles made the list of Oprah’s favorite things in 2009.
Salem flagship store: 122 Derby St., Salem, 978-745-2744; North Andover store: 59 Main St., North Andover, 978-689-3636, www.oldepeppercandy.com
Readers’ Choice (Tie)
Simply Sweet, Newburyport
Standout Qualities: Handmade turtles, nonpareils, and clusters, as well as a large chocolate bar for gathering sweets for your sweet.
12 Inn St., Newburyport, 978-462-3226, simplysweetchocolate.com
Harbor Sweets, Salem
What’s Unique: Their chocolate is still made using copper kettles and wooden paddles, just like when they opened 45 years ago.
85 Leavitt St., Salem, 800-243-2115, harborsweets.com