17th Avenue candy amusement store breaks from typical modern shop mold

Across the street from Western Canada High School and tucked beside the frozen yogurt haven, Menchies, is a retro and roadside-attraction inspired candy shop, too sweet to resist. 

It’s not your average candy store and if the animalistic plastic masks lined up in the window display like a barnyard nightmare didn’t give that away then your first steps inside surely will.

If you are looking for M&M’s or Hubba Bubba bubble gum, you might as well go to your local 7/11 rather than make the trek down to 17th Avenue. But if the strange and spectacular are on your palette then you’ve come to the right place. 

Freak Lunchbox is all about the non-traditional. Loud carnival signs clutter every angle of the store, tempting you to stuff your face and Chinese take away boxes with candy. While every blank space on the walls and ceiling are adorned with candy boxes.

The montage of candy brands stick aimlessly to the ceiling of Freak Lunchbox, The ceiling of Freak Lunchbox features an oversized mustache, disco ball and all varieties of candy boxes and vintage inspired posters. These elements are only one side of the store’s freaky sweet atmosphere.

Photo by Nora Cruickshankmajestically spanning the store like Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling composition.

There is no turning back from the wall of punny and often inappropriate gag gifts.

To say there are rows upon rows of candy is not an exaggeration. There really are rows upon rows of candy gracing every nook and cranny of the store. Classic candies like Sweet Tarts, Asian Pokey and my personal favourite Cherry Coca Cola (which is almost impossible to find anywhere else) adorn the store like crown gems.

A healthy diet, no matter how good, cannot withstand the pull of the strange and unseen. I should know, since I tried to resist the gummy peach rings and failed.

If you’ve ever felt like your oddities and peculiar qualities don’t quite fit in, then this candy store is a temporary home to let your freak flag fly. Freak Lunch Box is a place of acceptance for the sarcastic, spectacular and exceptional people and products of Calgary. 

Freak Lunchbox is a place to talk about subjects that would normally be hushed in close quarters, especially when standing beside a wall of candy “nipple tassels” and “posing pouches.”

Chinese take out boxes sit in rows waiting for candy lovers to fill them up with the large selection of candies that Freak Lunch Box offers. Scooping your own choice of gummies and chocolates is only one of the awesome features that this Calgary retro store offers.

Photo by Nora CruickshankEven the employees fit this crazy, freak show (and I mean this in the best way possible) vibe that Freak Lunchbox has going on. The cashier weighs out our plastic bag of assorted candy with one normal hand and the other hand struggling to manage with a family of finger puppets.

The music is drowned out by laughter coming from new and old customers who have just found the latest bobble head Elvis or Miracle Eyes Jesus. But when you can hear the tunes in the background you better believe they will be as cheesy as this place is sweet. Girls Just Wanna Have Fun plays on like an anthem to the outing with a gaggle of girlfriends, adding to the throw-back feeling Freak Lunchbox desires its candy lovers to have.

Leaving through the small front door of Freak Lunchbox is like stepping out of a haven. You need to take at least a couple souvenirs with you into the outside world of social standards and expectations or else risk withdrawal. And when you do leave with a sizable amount of treats and gag gifts for fellow oddities you had better pack your new found or rediscovered freak into one of their Game of Thrones lunchboxes.

ncruickshank@cjournal.ca