13 Jul2011

A nostalgic sweet treat…

I was walking around downtown New York, looking for a store call despana (found it, fabulous, but I didn’t take any photos), and one of the other shops we passed was a very sparse space that had candy on display like one might see in an art gallery. We entered and spied a couple of ladies pulling hot molten sugar, adding flavoring, and coaxing the sugar lava into the most amazing creations… Say hello to Papabubble. Amazing… Totally brought me back 30-40 years to a time when hard candy ruled in the far flung archipelago of the Philippines… :) Coveted goodies then included Charms Sour Balls, important lollipops, candy canes, colorful hard candies, and locally, even senorita lemon drops!

I glanced at the prices (astronomical) and my immediate bias was that they were a whole lot of style over substance (or cost to create). They had several little pieces of candy to sample and they were quite good, so I gulped hard and bought this little bottle of mixed fruit candies for $14.50(!) for the Teen (knowing I could mooch a few from her) and took it home in a clever clear plastic bag…

A week later, in Manila, we opened the bottle and started sampling the candies. They were excellent. Really good. There were 16 different fruit flavors in the bottle, from lime, cherry, orange, cherry and strawberry. On closer inspection, each tube of candy has a visual of the fruit in the center so when the candy is cut, you can tell what flavor it is. I know this candy appears wickedly overpriced. But if you take into account how it is hand-made, the visual feast, the flavors, etc., there’s no way I would make this treat myself. So in that regard, I thought it was reasonable value for artisanal candy. :)

Turns out this brand originated in Barcelona, Spain, and oddly, I think I recall passing by one of its shops on a trip to Spain a while back… They have a few branches around the world, and New York was just one of them. You can look up their websites, here and here. Don’t the papabubble baubles look good in the colorful fruit bowl in the last two pictures?



  1. Jeff says:

    The last pic is stunning!

    Jul 13, 2011 | 7:15 am


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  3. natie says:

    Indeed, Barcelona has a huge market for sweet treats..those really look very good!!! got to try them…

    Jul 13, 2011 | 7:49 am

  4. chach says:

    Eye candy? ;)

    Jul 13, 2011 | 8:03 am

  5. tipat says:

    They look too good to eat

    Jul 13, 2011 | 8:16 am

  6. NYCMama says:

    One of our family favorites. My girls love to just stand there and watch them make it. Truly worth the price. The owners and employees are also very nice, and very generous with samples! It’s also our usual stop on the way/from Despana!

    Jul 13, 2011 | 8:39 am

  7. Peach says:

    How cute! They look like murano beads.

    Jul 13, 2011 | 8:39 am

  8. Bubut says:

    yes, peach is correct, they look murano beads and could be string to a nice bracelet

    Jul 13, 2011 | 10:39 am

  9. sandee says:

    These kinda remind me of erasers when I was little hehe. The erasers were not as long though. Charms Sour Balls was a treat whenever I would go to my grandma’s house. Dun lang ako nakakakain nun hehe.

    Jul 13, 2011 | 12:05 pm

  10. Joey in Dubai says:

    They’re beautiful. I don’t think I can eat them; I’d rather look admiringly at them. Work of art!

    Jul 13, 2011 | 12:27 pm

  11. Anne :-) says:

    How do they paint the fruits on the candy? That’s quite painstaking….

    Jul 13, 2011 | 2:58 pm

  12. char says:

    Amused to see this post. I have one jar at home. My boyfriend bought them in a flea market in New Zealand. :D Very yummy. Not the same brand though as I think mine was made by a small company.

    Jul 13, 2011 | 3:05 pm

  13. gaye says:

    hello MM! Oooh I remember sour balls and Fox’s! i love those! also Lipps candy! I once watched a japanese docu which included candy making, hand made, with the layers of colors and design cleverly placed so you get a long tube and then when cut the design detail is shown! amazing! I only do pulled sugar hehehe. thanks for the nice post! i love candy!

    Jul 13, 2011 | 5:08 pm

  14. CecileJ says:

    i can identify with the “heirloom ” hard candies like Charms sour balls and senorita lemon drops and may I add Peter’s Butter Ball! but what are “important lollipops”? Hehe. They tasted so good but were murder on the upper palate!

    Jul 13, 2011 | 5:09 pm

  15. joyce says:

    really pretty!! saw similar candies being sold at a shop in hanoi but with no ladies pulling sugar. like papabubble

    Jul 13, 2011 | 6:10 pm

  16. millet says:

    ohhh…nostalgic over this! i think i’ve mentioned this here in one or two earlier posts – local confectionery used to be so good, they had these exact type of candies, plus satin-looking ribbobs, chocolate-filled mint-flavored hard candy, etc. it was a lovely assortment that came in a large jar. plus of course, the cartimar and cash-and-carry staples of mint air bons, charms, peanut somethings (i can’t recall the name but they’re like the foam peanuts used for packing), etc. i think everyone has his/her own cherished hard candy memory!

    Jul 13, 2011 | 6:20 pm

  17. Kasseopeia says:

    Peach, you took the words out of my mouth (fingertips?) – Murano glass beads! They’re almost too cute to eat!

    I think if I had gotten my hands on these babies, I would try to string at least one edible bracelet. Just for the heck of it! =))

    Jul 13, 2011 | 6:20 pm

  18. elaine says:

    I’m admiring the bowl next to the candies;)

    Jul 13, 2011 | 7:05 pm

  19. kAi says:

    So cute. Actually I feel embarrassed, ‘coz I though they look like cut up Fimo sticks/canes (nail art)… LOL! I think they’re made the same way, pulled polymer clay for Fimo sticks, pulled sugar for Papabubble. :)

    Jul 13, 2011 | 7:34 pm

  20. rosedmd says:

    they look like murano beads , cute!

    Jul 13, 2011 | 8:12 pm

  21. EbbaBlue says:

    I remember the original “tira-tira” na talaga namang we stretch para pag-hati-hatian namin. Those candies were good, pero ngayon, sus, sugar na sugar na lang, ang sama pa ng lasa. Same with these candies you’ve featured here, ewan ko kung saan galing ang iniuuwi ng father ko nuon who works at San Miguel, bigay raw ng company nila. Pag-dating ko rito sa Texas, I spotted some at a Pharmacy-store, ay iba ang lasa… parang pure corn syrup lang.

    Anne those designs are not painted on. They are part of their intricate art of mixing the colors into the roll. Same with clay-jewelry making. Different colors of clay mixed into a certain fashion – they showed it one time in cable.

    Jul 13, 2011 | 8:13 pm

  22. Chinky says:

    Señorita lemon drops were a favorite. A grandaunt would pay us with lemon drops if we helped out in the sari-sari store after dinner!

    Jul 13, 2011 | 8:22 pm

  23. Footloose says:

    The assortment we got for Christmas included ribbon-shaped ones flavored with cinnamon, root beer and clove. The clove flavored ones make your fearless and think they are prophylaxis for teeth rot.

    Jul 13, 2011 | 9:40 pm

  24. Papa Ethan says:

    gaye, cecileJ: yung Lipps at Peter’s Butter Ball, kapanahunan ng Viva (caramel candy), White Rabbit, at Kendi-Mint (yung hard menthol candy with a chewy chocolate center), tsaka Tootsie Roll. Charms sour balls reminds me of Mr. Hooper’s store of Sesame Street (on black-and-white TV).

    Jul 13, 2011 | 9:41 pm

  25. Ryan says:

    The look delish!!! Too bad I can’t eat them… well, maybe just 1! :D

    Jul 13, 2011 | 10:02 pm

  26. Peach says:

    EbbaBlue, I super love tira-tira! Wonder where one can buy those nowadays? My mom used to buy them at the market in Lingayen, Pangasinan, during summertime. They tasted like crude versions of those honeycomb candies from Sugarhouse. Sigh, ang sarap :)

    Jul 13, 2011 | 10:18 pm

  27. Nicole says:

    i thought they were pencil erasers! I remember having one looking like those. :)

    Jul 13, 2011 | 10:21 pm

  28. satomi says:

    OMG!! I don’t have a sweet tooth but I love this store!! One of my faves next to Vosges Haut Chocolat [Dark Chocolate Bacon Bar, Barcelona Exotic Bar, Black Salt Caramel….yumm] . Hats off them amazing sugar artist!!

    Jul 13, 2011 | 11:20 pm

  29. Teresa says:

    Eye candy!!

    Jul 13, 2011 | 11:41 pm

  30. Elodie Jane Amora says:

    I think I could munch on them all day long! :)

    Jul 14, 2011 | 12:23 am

  31. natie says:

    i think tira-tira is butong-butong in Ilonggo–“butong” means to pull. yes, they tasted so good, and sometimes they come with sesame seeds..i can sometimes find good ones at wet-markets or food fares in small towns.

    Jul 14, 2011 | 12:28 am

  32. Meg says:

    Candymint and Viva candies will do for me!!! And Stork!!!

    Jul 14, 2011 | 1:57 am

  33. Andrea says:

    thanks for posting this, we will be in NY this week! papabubble & despana will definitely be in our itinerary!

    Jul 14, 2011 | 7:51 am

  34. Betchay says:

    OMG!….my cousin and I were in that store in NYC last March and it was the colorful displays that got us attracted plus the” free show” while they pull the molten sugar and also the free taste ;) We bought several small packets of different flavors to take home.My fave are the caramel filled apple and chocolate filled cinnamon! :)

    Jul 14, 2011 | 12:09 pm

  35. Call Center Agent says:

    Cool I love the candy design yeah its like the strawberry eraser before.

    Jul 14, 2011 | 5:48 pm

  36. MP says:

    Ayayay MM, I so love papabubble! I don’t mind watching the ladies spin those gems for hours – I think I enjoy watching them more than the kids do. Astronomical prices indeed but totally worth the splurge.

    Jul 14, 2011 | 6:38 pm

  37. Lambchop says:

    Charms sour candy! I miss them so :)

    Jul 14, 2011 | 11:24 pm

  38. Maddie says:

    omg! blast from the super past! *warm fuzzy feeling*

    Jul 15, 2011 | 4:15 am

  39. Mimi says:

    MM: the candy store here is called Made In Candy (basement of United Square). They sell EXACTLY the same ones in your photo. I buy them, $3.20 for less than 100 grams in a zip bag to decorate cupcakes. I asked and you can have your rock candy customised with name, design, etc. for a minimum order of 2 kilograms at $180. It would be a cute giveaway.

    Jul 15, 2011 | 6:49 am

  40. Anna says:

    Sweet! I brought my girls just last weekend to Candy by Sticky at The Rocks here in Sydney, and they also make hand-made candies as these. They also have branches in Singapore and HK. I agree that they are absolute gems!

    Jul 15, 2011 | 5:43 pm

  41. Irene says:

    I bought something similar from a little shop called Suga in Melbourne – http://www.suga.com.au/

    Got the kind packed in plastic bags and regret not getting a little jar because they’re wilting in the humid weather. But they are yummy :)

    Jul 15, 2011 | 8:10 pm

  42. jack says:

    eye candy indeed :) i remember the small jar of marks and spencers candies a friend gave me. but i’m not a fan of sour candies so my husband ended up eating them :)

    Jul 16, 2011 | 2:05 am

  43. noemi says:

    In Australia (Coffs Harbour, New South Wales), there’s a candy a shop where they have regular demos showing these candies being made by hand as a part of the tourist attraction..you can even design your own and make special orders with your name or logo on it…

    Jul 16, 2011 | 6:25 am

  44. Chris says:

    I should have paid attention to the name, but on a recent trip to Singapore, my hubby and I spied a shop that was creating candy in the store itself. Pulling sugar, shaping, etc. We were in a hurry so we didn’t really have time to browse but it looked and smelled interesting. :-)

    These photos look awesome – the candy look like glass beads. :-)

    Jul 16, 2011 | 10:21 pm

  45. MrsLavendula says:

    those candies are just too pretty to eat! nice shots!

    Jul 17, 2011 | 10:50 pm

  46. Marketfan says:

    They look like murano beads because they use the same caning technique, also used for polymer clay crafts. Millefiori is also done the same way. There are youtube videos demonstrating this technique, in case some people are wondering how they possibly put the design in the center of the candies. Very creative.

    Jul 18, 2011 | 12:37 pm

  47. Antonio meza says:

    Hello! What´s the name of that kind of candy figures? Does someone know where to buy them online?

    May 29, 2013 | 1:45 am


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