SPEEDWAY, Ind. —It is often said everything old comes back around and, in this case, that’s even true for candy.
For almost 10 years, Mike Ray has sold a variety of vintage sodas and other sweets at his popular produce shop, The Famous Tomato, in Speedway.
But a few years ago, he decided to take things one step further and open a new shop entirely dedicated to retro treats.
The Famous Soda and Candy Company is located in the heart of Speedway, tucked in next to a florist shop on Main Street. It’s an unassuming little shop, packed with generations’ worth of treats and treasures.
We’re getting a taste of “The Good Old Days” on this trip In Your Neighborhood.
“I’m real old-school as far as I love everything from the past” said owner Mike Ray. “You know, when everything was black and white… I miss those days.”
Now, he is bringing back some of his favorite vintage sweets at his own shop inside an old building that he says dates back to the 1940s.
“I always loved old buildings and always wanted an old store… and [this] was originally built as, believe it or not, a grocery store,” he said of the shop he restored to its old time glory.
At the Famous Soda and Candy Company, Ray shares his love of all things throwback by offering nostalgic sweets like Bit-O-Honey, candy buttons, Mars bars, Teaberry gum and candy sticks.
“Years ago they called them candy cigarettes,” he explained. “But now they are [called] ‘candy sticks’… they are definitely one of the top-sellers.”
For him, sharing some of his favorite old candies and sodas is not only a personal passion, but he also enjoys seeing families of parents, grandparents and grandkids coming in to share the experience.
“People come in and they’ll see something and go back to the, ‘Oh my gosh, we had this when we were kids’ and it’s like that’s really cool,” Ray noted. “People remember… I mean when you were a kid, what did you do back then? You didn’t have video games. You went to the candy store [and] bought candy for a penny.”
The shop also offers more current treats like Snickers, Milky Way and a whole section of the beloved Hoosier favorite, Albanese Candy.
“They have the best chocolate I think in the world along with the gummy bears and gummy worms and stuff they’re famous for ,” he said.
There’s also a whole wall of sodas of various flavors. Some come in collectors bottles featuring pop culture icons.
Others feature some downright weird flavors like pickle, ranch dressing and bacon.
“Oh yeah, there’s some stuff I wouldn’t touch!” Ray exclaimed.
But everyone loves to reach for a tried and true classic.
“Everybody from Indiana knows Triple XXX root beer. The three X’s mean years ago when they put it in barrels and they would brand it… three X’s meant it’s like the best root beer,” he noted.
Around the shop, you’ll see some of Ray’s memorabilia collection: everything from a porcelain statue of Bobby Knight to a ton of racing items— old signs, die cast cars and his most cherished piece: a Gilmore Foyt Racing Team sign.
“That sign came off of his pit garage the year after he won his 4th 500 as Indy’s only 4-time winner,” Ray said.
You might even see some familiar faces from the racing world.
Ray says he’s had visits from Tony George, Sara Fisher, Al Unser Jr., Ed Carpenter and more.
“Deep down, I’m like, ‘Wow so-and-so is here’ but… I know what it’s like because after an interview like this, I’m a rock star for like three days and it’s like, ‘Really, come on guys!” he said with a laugh.
Four Things You Need to Know About The Famous Soda & Candy Company:
- For almost 10 years, Mike Ray has owned the popular Speedway produce shop, The Famous Tomato. They always sold some old school candy and soda, but several years ago he decided to open The Famous Soda and Candy Company (located at 1538 N Main Street) to be entirely dedicated to retro sweets.
- The shop is open Tuesdays-Saturdays from 12-8 p.m. and closed on Sundays and Mondays. However, they do open up for special Main Street events.
- They are best known for featuring a huge array of sodas from old school brands like NEHI and Triple XXX root beer as well as old school candies like Bit-O-Honey, Teaberry hum, candy sticks, Mars bars, Moon Pies and much more. Inside the shop, the owner features a ton of memorabilia from his personal collection.
- After being closed through most of 2020 due to the pandemic and recently reopening this spring, owner Mike Ray says he’s most looking forward to all the familiar faces he will get to see on race day now that fans are welcome back to the track. For him, as a Speedway resident and business owner, that’s what really makes it all so sweet. “Most people in a small business like this, you’re paying the bills. It’s the memories, the people… that keeps you going,” he said.
For more information about The Famous Soda and Candy Company (and The Famous Tomato), check out their website by clicking here. To see more photos and reviews by local Yelpers, check out their Yelp profile. You can also connect on social media via Facebook.
While in Speedway, check out these other local hot-spots nearby: