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Tucked inside cute Santa Monica children’s bookstore Books and Cookies, there’s a new little shop-within-a-shop to satisfy your adult appetite for sweets. 

A Real Treat specializes in candies that are free of corn syrup and artificial dyes and flavors. It’s a jewel box of hues and tastes, bins filled with by-the-ounce gummy bears (tinted with radish peels, which you don’t taste at all) and dark-chocolate mints (a no-preservative riff on Junior Mints).

We browsed vegan versions of classic bars: the Buccaneer ($3; like Three Musketeers), the Snap! ($3; similar to Nestlé Crunch) and more, made with rice milk instead of dairy. And we swooned when preservative-free butterscotch, green apple and Celtic sea salt Béquet Caramels ($4) melted in our mouths.

Owner Vanessa Hughes says she’s always had a sweet tooth but was frustrated by how additive- and allergen-free candy could only be ordered online--not bought in a shop where you can sample and indulge. 

So our tough-to-shop-for dietary-restricted pals are getting boxes of caramels, chocolates and sour candies for the holidays; and we’re walking out with sweet booty for ourselves, too.

A Real Treat, 2230 Main St., Santa Monica; 424-272-5416 or

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