Coming from mountainous Manitou Springs, Colo. (population 5,113), Flagstaff seemed like a home away from home. Despite the significantly larger population, the classic architecture and bounty of local businesses made Flagstaff feel like a dilated version of the tiny, hippy town back home that I had grown to love. Despite my Colorado Springs residency, neighboring Manitou Springs became a home to me because I spent my entire senior year and post-senior year summer behind a local store’s candy counter slicing fudge and throwing chocolate-covered goodies into bags for tourists ranging from Mississippi locals to Scotland natives.
I discovered Flagstaff because my best friend, who also worked at the chocolate store and whose mother owned it, had her orientation for Northern Arizona University, and I went along for the ride. My Arizona State University orientation was just a few days later, so we decided to head out to the Grand Canyon State together. We roamed through downtown Flagstaff and along Aspen Street on our final day there before heading back down to Phoenix for my orientation. We ventured into quirky clothing stores and passed by little restaurants that filled our noses with delicious-smelling homemade cuisine. All of a sudden, we were stopped dead in our tracks by a colossal window display filled with mouth-watering caramel apples.
Our chocolate store back home had just begun experimenting with caramel apples, so naturally any intelligent owner would want to go in and check out the competition and possibly steal some inspiration. The three of us walked into The Sweet Shoppe & Nut House and were greeted by a friendly staff and trays upon trays filled with the prettiest, almost artistic fudge I had ever seen. I tried the dark chocolate, sea salt and caramel fudge and was hooked. Because I had spent so long working with every sort of chocolate treat known to man, I had built up immunity to how delicious it all is; but with this fudge, it wasn’t the case. I ended up buying a little chunk, along with a couple chocolate-covered potato chips, and it was definitely the best money I spent during my time in Arizona.
The Sweet Shoppe & Nut House originally opened in 2011 in Flagstaff but has now been franchised into Bridgeville, Pa. In a way it saddens me that this hidden gem is no longer one-of-a-kind, but then again, the East Coast should not be denied the bliss that comes after biting into The Sweet Shoppe’s signature fudge. I hope to pay another visit to this wonderfully decadent store as soon as I can persuade one of my car-owning friends to suffer through the two-hour drive to Flagstaff. But don’t worry, Sweet Shoppe; one way or another I’ll find my way back to you.
If You Go: The Sweet Shoppe & Nut House
Where: 15 W. Aspen Ave., Flagstaff
Contact: (928) 255-4919