A guide to tackling desserts in Columbia

From cookies to chocolate, Columbia has a variety of dessert shops you need to try.

Photo by Ryan Wilson

If you’re trying to find the right place for you and your sweet tooth, Columbia has everything that you’re looking for. From locally-owned, small-town candy shops to cookie corporations, your sweet tooth is dying to try them.

Harold’s Doughnuts

This local donut shop recently closed their 9th Street location but has another location off-campus. Their off-campus location is a drive-thru and it is wonderful because it is accessible and easy get your donuts quickly. Harold’s makes hand-crafted, made-from-scratch donuts every morning from 6 a.m. to noon. The shop has everything from seasonal donuts, to savory limited edition donuts. They even have coffee and other drinks like tea. If you are looking for a nice, delicious donut shop with reasonable prices, Harold’s is the right place for you.

HotBox Cookies

If you are a cookie lover, Columbia has a ton of late-night cookie spots. Starting off with Hot Box Cookies, which is located downtown on East Broadway Street. They are open until midnight on Friday and Saturday, and they have a variety of cookies to choose from red velvet to chocolate white chocolate chip. They also have vanilla, chocolate and cookies and cream ice cream. They look amazing in an ice cream sandwich with their cookies. If you are looking for low-priced classic cookies, Hot Box Cookies is the place for you.

Crumbl Cookies

Crumbl Cookies has six new flavors every week and no two weeks are the same. The thrill of trying new cookie flavors really hooked me into repeatedly going to Crumbl. This week they have peanut butter and jelly, cake batter and s’mores just to name a few. Crumbl sells ice cream as well. Also, instead of ordering in person, you can order your cookies through a screen at the front of the store for contactless shopping. When your cookies are ready, the workers open the box and ask if everything looks alright. That is something different from any other dessert place in town and it is extremely welcoming..


In the heart of downtown, this tiny ice cream shop is a must! All of the eclectic artwork within the store gives off an interesting aura. The ice cream itself is delicious, especially if it is a hot day. They have some classic and some limited flavors as well like sweet cream, cotton candy and my personal favorite, cinnamon. If you want to spend a day downtown, definitely check out Sparky’s.

The Candy Factory

The Candy Factory has every candy you possibly could imagine. From their popular truffles to their chocolate towers, this is a chocolate lover’s paradise. The prices are not high and the shop itself has a variety of options. If you want to immerse yourself in a candy wonderland, you are going to want to try The Candy Factory.

U Knead Sweets

U Knead is a small restaurant and bakery. They serve boba, desserts, cakes and noodles. I had the luxury of trying their lemon cake and it was amazing. If you are looking for a good combination of salty food, sweet cakes and desserts, this is the right place for you.

Overall, Columbia has a variety of great dessert shops that can be different for everyone. My ranking with the best places in this roundup, starting from the top is Crumbl Cookies, Sparky’s, Harold’s Donuts, U Knead Sweets, Hot Box Cookies and, finally, The Candy Factory. Everyone should check out all of these fabulous dessert shops.

Edited by Shannon Worley | sworley@themaneater.com

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