Once upon a time, in a not-so-far away shopping center along North U.S. 27, there was the Candy Castle, a magical store full of colorful sweets and treats and all kinds of confectionery creations.
Residents of Somerset need not open some fanciful storybook to go there, however; just get in your car and head to the Somerset Plaza, next to the Harbor Freight storefront.
Helen Rehmann is the woman behind Candy Castle, a store which sells candy -- just candy. A wide variety of candy.
(And a few other sweets, like truffles and cotton candy. But yeah. Lots and lots of candy.)
Rehmann came to Somerset from Michigan about a year-and-a-half ago. Due to industrial relocation outside the United States, her husband's machine shop for cars went "belly up," and they needed a new path in life.
As it turns out, like something out of a Hansel and Gretel tale, that path was made out of candy.
"I was thinking, 'What can I do that people would like?'" said Rehmann. "I know that Somerset does not have a candy store. So it hit me: Just open a candy store. Just candy. No pies, no cupcakes, no cake. Just saltwater taffy and old-fashioned candy and regular candy -- any type of candy I can get in here I try and get it in here."
So Candy Castle opened a couple of months ago, and while candy is one main focus of the business, affordability is another. Saltwater taffy in particular is a tourist trap favorite that Rehmann enjoys being able to provide for non-tourist trap prices.
"I've got a lot of saltwater taffy at amazing prices," she said. "Instead of Pigeon Forge and Lexington, people can come here and get a nice treat without paying out the nose for taffy."
Homemade candy is another offering of the store -- homemade truffles, fudge, and rock candy.
"I do have a girl who's my confectionist," said Rehmann. "She comes in and brings me my truffles and fudge. ... Not a lot of people have that in this town, and if they do, it's shipped in from a different state and it's so much more expensive. I charge very good prices."
Then there are favorites of any candy counter -- Airheads, Pop Rocks, candy bars, Jelly Belly jelly beans, gummi snacks, suckers, and much more. Dippin' Dots, the flash-frozen ice cream favorite from right here in Kentucky, are also available.
"It's like $2.99 for a bag (of Dippin' Dots). You can't get that -- if you're at the water park, you pay five bucks," said Rehmann. "So I'm trying to make it so ... if a child has 10 cents, he can leave with something. I literally have candy for ten cents."
In all, Rehmann estimates she lively has close to 500 different types of candy products in the store, which is decorated with posters of famous images -- Batman, "Starry Night," and Pulaski County's own "Rosie the Riveter" -- made out of Jelly Belly beans.
"I never grew up on (a lot of the newer types), but kids love it," said Rehmann. "... We're trying to do it all."
There's also a cotton candy machine -- "I make it out of Jolly Ranchers, and (kids) just can't over the fact that I can do that," said Rehmann.
So far, it's just a simple, old-fashioned candy shop -- "People just come in and get their candy, kids especially" -- but while she isn't ready for it yet, Rehmann would like to have the space able to host parties and special events as well.
Tucked away on the south end of the Somerset Plaza, Candy Castle isn't the most conspicuous storefront. But word-of-mouth has already been strong for Rehmann, who can quickly identify the joy associated with running a candy shop: the children.
"I just adore kids," said Rehmann. "I have three of my own and they're all grown. When they younger, I'd pull them out of school, go to the mall, get candy, come home, watch a movie in bed -- I just really miss kids so much. I adore them so much, but of course, I can't take them home with me."
But she can send her candy back home with them to make a child's day brighter -- and that may be the next best thing.