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The siren song of summer sweets by the sea

August 2, 2019

One of the enduring images of Rehoboth Beach is the bright orange Dolle’s sign that towers over the Boardwalk. It seems only fitting: Vacation calls for relaxation and indulgence, and few things are more indulgent than still-warm-from-the-popper caramel corn, salt water taffy, a softball-size caramel apple or a swirly ice cream cone - with sprinkles.  

On the Boardwalk,  Dolle’s ancient taffy-making machines crank out tubular treats that share the counter with the slightly singed sugar aroma of caramel corn. Try this: Take a bite of a chocolate-flavored and an orange-flavored taffy at the same time. You can thank me later. It’s also hard to forget Candy Kitchen, mainly because you can’t throw a slice of King Tut fudge around here without hitting one. I can’t pass up the colorful fruit slice jellies. By the way, fudge freezes just fine. Ask me how I know. 

Michigan-based franchisor Kilwins has been making people smile since 1947, and they have what I believe to be the best made-in-house caramel around. Debbie Marchese keeps the cases full of those dinner plate-sized pecan and cashew turtles with dark chocolate and caramel. Take home a caramel-cloaked marshmallow on a stick, rolled in chopped pecans. And don’t miss the toasted coconut or the salted caramel ice cream. Oops… and the peanut brittle. Govern yourself accordingly. 

Honored over the years by Every Day with Rachael Ray Magazine and Food Network Magazine, Snyder’s Candy stocks a huge selection of imported licorice, including those delightful multicolored licorice pastilles. (Think of Good & Plentys, but smaller so you can fit more into your mouth.) Big boss Jeff Balk keeps lots of old favorites on the shelves, like Black Jack gum, a limited number of Necco Wafers (when they’re gone, they’re gone!), Smarties, Mary Janes, Zagnut Bars, Charleston Chews (strawberry, chocolate and vanilla) and more. Y’never know what you’ll find. 

The Langer family at Kaisy’s Delights (just a few doors down from Jeff) puts out a sweet pancake topped with tasty jellies. Though it’s officially known as a Kaiserschmarrn, “gimme one of those sweet pancakes” brings the same results. Double Dippers on N. First St. is virtually surrounded by restaurants, and has become the acknowledged late-night home for Hershey’s cones, sundaes and local camaraderie. Back on The Avenue we have the old (but brand-new for downtown) standby, Dairy Queen. Love the chocolate, butterscotch or cherry dip cones? They have a new flavor - Creamsicle! Intrigued? They’re on the north side of the ocean block near Mason’s Famous Lobster Rolls. 

Next door to Indigo Indian Restaurant is a longtime favorite, Archie’s old-fashioned, hand-dipped ice cream. They are also ground zero for squeezed-to-order orangeade and lemonade. Take a right-angle into Penny Lane and look for the unassuming Café Papillon. Boss Maya Contractor dishes up fresh croissants and warm, thin-as-air crepes slathered with pretty much anything your little sweet heart desires. Like fresh French bread? Get there early. Talk about hidden gems! 

Those who stroll The Avenue can’t forget the dual Kohr Bros. soft-serve spots. Not sure what to get? The orange/vanilla swirl comes highly recommended (by me). Sprinkles optional. Chip Hearn’s The Ice Cream Store by the Boardwalk (home of insufferably strange names for great flavors) is a one-of-a-kind ice cream joint. You’ll need the energy after selecting from what seems like a thousand different concoctions. And don’t be put off by the lines – Chip has a small army of terminally friendly servers who come around onto the sidewalk to take your order. A few doors west is milkshake-central: Mug & Spoon. Chip’s daughter Aileen and partner Kyle Ten Eyck whip up tasty coffees along with skyscraper-worthy milkshake creations. Not sure what you want? They can make you a milkshake topped with a slice of cake, a brownie and a cookie! 

Breakfast favorite Royal Treat on Wilmington Avenue morphs into an ice cream parlor in the late morning hours. If you are in line for breakfast when this occurs, chill out (pun intended) and adjust your thinking: Get a wonderfully gooey hot fudge sundae. People eat chocolate things for breakfast all the time. 

Some of the newest sweet treats to grace the Rehoboth Boardwalk are the teeny-weeny donuts at Zelky’s Arcade. The donuts are poppin’ fresh out of the machine at the main Zelky’s located in between the south installation and the one on the north side. In the mood for a mind-bending experience? After you munch the donuts (they’re small - get a bucket!), check out the hi-tech Virtual Reality experience. It’s one of the most advanced systems around, and I promise you will not soon forget your sensory encounter with this leading-edge technology. 

Even in this business of eating, there’s got to be dessert. So get yourself a little sugar on the side. And remember: Everything in moderation - including moderation.

  • So many restaurants, so little time! Food writer Bob Yesbek gives readers a sneak peek behind the scenes, exposing the inner workings of the local culinary industry, from the farm to the table and everything in between. He can be reached at byesbek@capegazette.com.