Youngstown’s sweet History

Sweet Memories Vintage Tee’s and Candy sells t-shirts featuring old candy advertisements. Photo by Shianna Gibbons / The Jambar

By Shianna Gibbons

Youngstown is returning to its candy and ice cream roots with a new vintage candy shop opening Feb. 10. Sweet Memories Vintage Tee’s, a woman-owned business, is opening its newest business venture with Vintage Candy Shop featuring its graphic-design t-shirts.

Linda Barton, SMVT Vintage Candy Shop’s owner, has been an entrepreneur since she was 24 years old and has lived in the Youngstown area for 27 years. In 2020, Barton reached out to Good Humor Ice Cream for its 100th-year anniversary.

“I found out Good Humor Ice Cream was from Youngstown,” Barton said. “I just called them … at the time, they had told me that they don’t give licensing agreements out to small businesses, and I told them — I’m a small, woman-owned business. I said you don’t have to marry me. You can just take me for your anniversary, and I can educate the community and let people know the history of Good Humor here.”

Featured in Barton’s Vintage Candy Store is a historical timeline of Good Humor, Isaly’s and Klondike’s business ventures. Barton said it’s important for people to know these businesses started in the Mahoning Valley and Ohio.

“[Good Humor] invented America’s first ice cream truck, and ice cream on a stick was invented here … a lot of people don’t know they’re from around here,” Barton said. “We just launched our Isaly’s and Klondike line. A lot of people don’t know that the Klondike Bar is from Ohio. The first ever advertising for the Klondike Bar was Feb. 5, 1922, in the Youngstown Vindicator, so I reached out to Isaly’s, and I was like, ‘I have a whole wall dedicated to your history.’”

Barton said she wants people from the Youngstown area to take pride in the local history outside of the steel mills. 

Barton said Good Humor had been a big supporter of her company and her new storefront.

“I told Good Humor that I was going to donate 20% back to Akron Children’s Hospital to the [neonatal intensive care unit]. They loved the idea so much that they got me connected with Popsicle, Sweethearts, Pez Smarties and all these different candy brands,” Barton said. “Good Humor was our cheerleader, so they [have] really been cheering us on. Good Humor is giving us 500 ice cream bars to hand out to people that are coming in.”

Barton’s vintage tees extend beyond candy and ice cream brands. Featured in the store are shirts related to Youngstown and the military branches. Barton said she created a Saint-shirt for the Youngstown Italian Festival and donated $5 from every shirt to a YSU scholarship.

We were able to raise $1,000 for the YSU student scholarship,” Barton said. 

Abbey Hennessey, the graphic designer for Sweet Vintage Memories Tees and YSU alumna, uses old advertising and the art skills she learned from YSU to create the designs on the t-shirts.

“I design it, I send it to them, they either tell me they love it or they give me critiques. Then from there, we make like pre-production samples [and] send those to them. They have to approve the print colors. Then we get to roll out the final product,” Hennessey said. “I learned a lot from YSU. For the first year, I learned so much more [about] trademarks and licensing and things like that, but just my core art skills definitely came from YSU.”

Sammie Gurd, the social media director, is a senior musical theatre major at YSU. Gurd said she’s always wanted to work in social media. 

“I actually had always kind of had an interest in doing social media. I heard that [Barton] was looking for someone. She kind of told me a little bit about everything here. [It] definitely sounded intriguing and something I would love to do, and I’m very glad that she took a chance on me,” Gurd said. 

The Vintage Candy Shop will have its grand opening at 11 a.m. on Feb. 10. The storefront is located at 1282 Trumbull Ave., Girard, Ohio. Free ice cream bars from Good Humor, a coffee tasting from Isaly’s and more will be handed out to customers throughout the day.