The Big Apple has gotten a tad bit sweeter! For all Swedish expats in New York the news can’t be better.
A Swedish candy store has opened in the Village, a candy store selling all the pick-n-mix candy you could ever dream of.
These days it’s hardly Dalahästar or the sound of accordion music that bring tears to the eyes of Swedes living in America. Rather, it’s Swedish candy. If you’re a Swede (or know one who is) you know what I’m talking about. There’s candy and there’s Swedish candy. And now, finally, the latter is being available thanks to Stefan Ernberg and Florencia Baras and their new store in the Village called “Sockerbit” (lump of sugar in a direct translation). Most Swedes probably have the same question: Why didn’t someone think of this before?
“The FDA (the American Food and Drug Administration) makes it difficult to import certain Swedish candies,” explains Ernberg. “The candy we have in Sweden, especially licorice, contains a natural food dye that’s considered illegal here. A whole lot of artificial dyes are allowed, but not these natural ones. That made it difficult, and that made it impossible for us to import Djungelvrål and Viol, for instance.”
Almost all other favorites are available, though: Sockerbitar, häxvrål, lakritskritor, svampar, salmiakpengar, Geisha-chocolates, green gummy frogs, gummy Coca-Cola bottles, Ahlgrens bilar… Salty, sour sweet – and everything in between.
Ernberg’s Argentinian wife needed no coaxing in getting into the business.
“I love licorice!” Baras says with a smile. “I like to combine different candies, like a sockerbit with some salty licorice. I also do skewers with different pieces of candy, and 'flower arrangements' using candy for weddings and birthdays."
The couple actually sold Swedish candy in Cordoba, Spain, but they worked for somebody else there, and were interested in opening something of their own.
“We thought about different places around the world. We thought about Asia,” says Ernberg, “but the climate there isn’t too suitable for candy. It’s warm all the time, and we know from Sweden, that candy sales go down in summer time. We did a year’s worth of research and found that New York City would be the perfect place for us to open a business.”
They add that it took a lot of time to get everything in place, not just the regulations with FDA and finding the proper place.
“It was also a lot of labeling, a lot of translating…” says Baras.
But now everything is in place, and in a beautiful place too: A crisp, clean and white store where the colorful candy stands out beautifully, smack in the middle of the West Village on Christopher Street. The candy sits, just like in every pick-n-mix candy store in Sweden, in their separate buckets, you grab a bag and a ladle and pick what you want. If you’re unsure about Swedish candy, there are brief descriptions. Baras and Ernberg believe Americans too will come around and discover the sweet joys of Swedish candy.
“Many Americans have told us they can’t find high-quality candy here, they are happy we’re opening!”
And if you’re not living in the Big Apple? Not to worry, eventually Sockerbit will open up for mail orders.
“We are looking into different delivering companies right now,” says Baras. “We are also working on constructing our website. We just felt that the most important thing was to open our store. The Swedes in New York have been very patient with us!”
By Eva Stenskär
For more info: SOCKERBIT