The tradition of the Candy Lady lives on in Selma.
Published 9:46 am Tuesday, November 14, 2023
In communities across the country, the neighborhood candy lady steps in to support children in need of a snack, a meal or a nurturing presence. An article published by the website wearememphis.com, explains the role of a neighborhood’s candy lady.
When Tonya Boddie moved to Selma, inspired by memories of her own neighborhood candy lady, she embarked on a mission to become one herself.
“We came down in January  ahead of Barack Obama, when he did his speech on the bridge, and God just placed Selma on my heart and I knew it was the right place for me,” Boddie said.
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“The candy lady as an urban businesswoman has been around for years. In my neighborhood, we had one and I just always wanted to be one,” Boddie said.
The candy ladies living room some residents describe would be packed with low-cost snacks: candy, popsicles, Kool-Aid, cookies, nachos and sometimes even pizza. According to the article, the candy lady also served as a sort of protector for neighborhood children, as an extra pair of hands and eyes for parents, and as a mother figure that wouldn’t let any child go hungry.
Located at 2101 Broad Street, Boddie’s Candy Lady shop serves burgers, fries, tots and ice cream as well as freshly baked goods like chocolate chip cookies and cake.
“I do all the baking and my husband helps. He really can bake too, and I just create whatever speaks to me and I listen to my customers about what they want,” Boddie said.
Beyond the regular menu, the Candy Lady also caters to special orders, currently taking requests for Thanksgiving treats until Nov. 18 and Christmas orders until Dec. 16.
Acknowledging the challenges that come with running such a business, Boddie emphasizes that there have been ups and downs, especially during the aftermath of the January tornado that devastated Selma, but that she remains mindful that there are still members of the community suffering. In true candy lady fashion, she often dips into her tip jar to ensure that no child leaves without a treat.
“We had customers at the window waiting for food when the tornado hit,” Boddie said. “I just couldn’t believe what I was seeing. We just rushed everyone inside.”
While her shop remained unscathed, Boddie witnessed the devastation in the community.
“We donated a lot, as much as we could, to anyone that came in hurting,” Boddie said. “People saw what we were doing and came in and donated. It was amazing.”
Looking ahead, Boddie says she envisions expanding her love of baking for the community into opening a full bakery in Selma.
“I see the demand for it,” Boddie says. “I just have a lot of ideas for Selma.”
Those wishing to see the Candy Lady menu or to order ahead for the holidays can visit their website at https://candyladyselma.com/.