Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

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Owner of new candy store spreads a taste of “HOPE”

Foreign+snacks+sit+on+shelves+on+February+22%2C+2024%2C+at+Taste+Buds+Snacks%2C+1400+W+Main+Ste+F%2Cin+Carbondale%2C+Illinois.+%40libbyphelpsphotography%0A
Libby Phelps
Foreign snacks sit on shelves on February 22, 2024, at Taste Buds Snacks, 1400 W Main Ste F,in Carbondale, Illinois. @libbyphelpsphotography

From cars to candy, Marvin Porter is wrapping up happiness and sharing it with the Carbondale community. 

Taste Bud’s Snacks, Porter’s candy shop, opened its doors Sept. 16, 2023, and offers many unique treats, serving old school and exotic candies. Some are hard to find or discontinued in America, and others are imported from countries overseas. 

“I was originally opening up a car wrap business, and I went to the business development center that my friend recommended,” he said. 

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After conversations with the workers there, Porter felt discouraged to continue with that business venture.

“I ran into some negative energy, but I didn’t let that stop me and decided, you know what, we’re going to open up a candy store.”

A combination of Porter’s past and inspiration from his children are what took him from wrapping cars to selling candy. 

“I’ve always had a love for candy,” he said, “I grew up in Murphysboro and used to go to Mr. Bulky’s when I was in middle school and I used to get those jumbo jawbreakers. I’ve been telling my kids about these for years, and when I came back, Mr. Bulky’s was gone, and so I told my kids that and they were all sad.”

Porter now carries Mr. Bulky’s Jawbreakers in Taste Bud’s Snacks, along with other old school goodies.

 Carla Cremeens is one of Porter’s customers who appreciates the memories these candies bring back to her, so much so that she left a heartfelt post on Taste Bud’s Facebook page recounting her experience. She later talked about the review.

 “A little backstory,” Cremeens said, “I was a daddy’s girl and he passed away when I was thirteen. That was hard. One of the memories I have of that time was when my mom and I were cleaning out the closet after he passed. We found an empty Rocky Road candy bar wrapper in one of his coat pockets, and that just stuck with me. It always has and always will. He loved those things.”

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Cremeens continued: “So of course when I saw that candy bar at Taste Bud’s Snacks I had to get it. I shared my story with Marvin and he just took a moment, you could tell that he was being sincere, and he looked at me and said, ‘You know what, this is from your daddy. This is on the house today.’ and I get choked up just telling that story. It brings me to tears.”

 Heidi Walker, another customer, also found a special memory of her own within the walls of Porter’s shop. 

Owner of Taste Buds Snacks, Marvin Porter Jr. stands in front of the photo wall in the candy shop on February 22, 2024 at Taste Buds Snacks, 1400 W Main Ste F, in Carbondale, Illinois. (Libby Phelps)

“My favorite candy there is Zots. They’re a hard candy and there’s something that sizzles inside. They taste great, and I think there’s four different flavors. I haven’t seen those since I was a kid in the 80’s,” she said.

 What’s special about customers like Cremeens and Walker experiencing this nostalgia, is that they can share it with their children now. 

“A lot of things brought back memories of my childhood, but of course a lot of the things were new to my child, and he got to experience something from my generation as a kid,” Cremeens said.

 Old school candies aren’t the only unique options available at the shop. Porter carries candies from all over the world. 

“I see my kids watching TikTok and that type of stuff is going viral,” Porter said. “Everybody’s ordering boxes of candy and they’re not sure what they’re getting, so I just decided to sell them all here, so they can come and pick what they want instead of getting random stuff every month.” 

The opportunity to collect the rare treats has a lot to do with Porter’s networking capabilities, a skill all business owners need to acquire. 

“I went to Columbia college for a couple semesters, and a couple of my buddies were from overseas. We still keep in touch and they connect me with the right people and I get a lot of different stuff from all over the world.”

Porter listed off some of the rarities he’s collected during a tour of the store, 

“We have Giant Skittles from Dubai, Kabaya Panda Biscuits and Ribeye Steak Flavored Chips from Japan, Peach Oreos and Exotic Tropicana Juices from China, Chocolate Covered Bacon and Trolli Globes from Germany, Double Ended Cherry Pops and Nestle Lion Bars from France, Hershey Waffles from South Korea, Mars Bars and English Licorice from the UK, Kit Kats from India that are discontinued in America, Turkish Chocolates, and a selection of jerkies including kangaroo, alligator, duck, python and camel.”

The list goes on, but Porter said, “I don’t have items sitting on the shelf for long.”

If you can’t find what you’re looking for with everything Porter offers, no need to worry. 

Walker said he has a sign up sheet on the counter for customer requests so they can ask for items he doesn’t have yet. 

“My daughter put the soda pop candies on the order sheet and he got them right away,” she said.

Taste Bud’s Snacks has been in business for about half a year now, and Porter’s already looking forward to what the future has in store. 

“I want more merchandise, t-shirts, mugs, and stuff like that. I want to get some freezers for ice cream for springtime coming up. Jelly Belly products will be here Friday, and in about a month or so the cotton candy machine will make it here from Japan,” Porter said.. 

Special toothbrushes and candy-flavored toothpaste are on order.

“We have a Taste Bud’s Snacks YouTube channel, and my children are the Taste Bud Kids. We pre-record videos and they try everything out of the store and give their opinion on the candy. After each episode they brush their teeth and tell the children ‘always remember, happiness over poor emotions and always brush your teeth after you eat your goodies.’”

 Porter said he wants to do something with the community as well.

“I had an idea to set up a mud run for the kids,” he said. “It’s on the back burner while I look for a nice place to do that. I want to provide a place for families and children to hang out and do stuff together and that’s where the idea for the mud run comes from. I want to get Taste Buds started and turn it into something big.”

 Porter is aware of the challenges that come along with starting a business.

“I’ve ran into negative energy when trying to get started and while looking for resources that will help my business grow. People say things like, ‘You’re going to need to sell a lot of candy for that business to survive,” Porter said.

He said he’s disassociated himself from the negative people.

“But I’m still looking for help writing grants, so any information that anyone could provide me with on that would be appreciated.” Porter said.

 Walker, Cremeens, and the Facebook community Porter has garnered continue to show their support. 

Walker said, “There’s something magical about being a kid and going into a candy store. It’s nicely decorated, he has positive books for sale, and he has a backdrop with big suckers where you can take pictures and have them posted on the Facebook page. He’s on a first name basis with my kids. He’ll ask them how their day was, or if we go in after a basketball game, he’ll talk to them about that.”

 Decorations throughout the store are all designed by Porter. And if you talk to him about the acronym displayed on one of the walls, he’ll tell you about the meaning behind it. 

“I had a little slogan that I came up with back in 2012, which was H.O.P.E., and for us that’s Happiness Over Poor Emotions. And I said you know what, we’ll open up a candy store and make that the slogan, and we’ll call it Taste Bud’s Snacks and spread a little positivity to the children.”

At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about for Porter.

“I’ve been down the wrong path before, but I’ve decided that I don’t want to do that anymore,” he said. “I want to be a positive role model for my children, and the community. I want to teach the kids that your reality comes from your mind and the way you perceive things. And that’s why I want them to always remember, always have hope.”

“I hope the community shows up,” Walker said, “I really prefer supporting small businesses.”

Cremeens agreed, saying, “It’s more friendly with small businesses, more personal. You can’t get that in the big chain stores, not at all.” 

She said Porter really knows how to leave a mark. 

“It was an experience for sure,” Cremeens said. “My child is 10, and to be able to catch and hold a 10- year-old’s attention like Porter can is really neat to see. I was talking to my son’s friend’s mother the other day, and she told me her son was still talking about that store. So I’m excited to see what else Porter can come up with. It’s something the kids will remember, I’m positive.”

 


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    LynetteMar 8, 2024 at 2:30 pm

    I’d been trying to get in there since he opened, and I finally made it today. And like so many times, back in the day, I was spending my allowance on candy! 🙂 I hadn’t seen some of that stuff in years, and was thrilled that there’s a sheet on the counter where you can add even more stuff you haven’t seen in years, to the list! Even got to try a sample of camel jerky — and it wasn’t bad. The bag of goodies I left with was pretty full, but can see myself going back … Neapolitan coconut bars! (***sigh!!!!***) 😀

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