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By Heather• 30 Sep 2015
A lolly-loving friend has a big number birthday soon, which prompted a trip around Wellington’s sweet shops. I figured a jar of sweetness would be the ideal present, and it’d be impolite not to taste test right?
Since I was in the Petone area, I called into UK Goodies first. While they have all sorts of fabulous UK items like Walkers crisps (the prawn cocktail ones do kinda taste like prawn cocktail), cornish pasties (in my fridge), yorkshire pud mix, jaffa cakes, chip shop sauce and pie in a can (who knew?), I made myself focus on sweets.
They stock a huge range of bon bons, with the sour blue raspberry being the most popular (not actually too sour) ahead of classics like rosey apple, and rhubarb and custard (yep definitely custard), and humbugs, Jammie Dodgers, flying saucers, Twiglets and a whole array of sour lollies also currently the rage. And stories. I could’ve spent the whole afternoon listening to them. Here's some info about Sir Ed and Kendal's mint cakes (cool huh), but you're going to have to hang out with Terry yourself to hear the rest.
I also took away a Cadbury’s Double Decker chocolate bar (crunchy, nougaty and moreish) and Tunnocks tea cakes (a little like giant marshmallows but stickier).
And to keep things fair, I popped into the Dutch shop at Petone as well.
Known for cheese, licorice, marizpan, spiced cookies and chocolate sprinkles on toast (you haven’t lived if you haven’t tried this), they didn’t disappoint. I totally lost count of the varieties of licorice lollies available – sweet, paired with banana, wrapped in shiny coloured coats, salted (salmiak), double salted, and on it went. The salmiak pastilles were surprisingly moreish with a light crunchy texture, while the double salted will definitely take some practice to master.
I also came away with a jar of speculoos spread. Think ginger crunch in a jar. Oh. My. God. I’m going to hide this from the rest of the household and enjoy it like the guilty secret it is whenever I’m alone. I had it on its own from the jar (couldn’t wait to try), on chippies (maybe not the ideal accompaniment to prawn cocktail), on oat crackers, on toast and on pear. And I’m told its pretty good on ice cream too. This is the best $10.95 of sugar and fats I’ve ever tasted.
Sarkara (Manners Street) means 'sweet' in Sanskrit, an ancient Indo-European langauge. Their aim is to bring you the best sweets from around the world, all helpfully labelled by origin.
Some interesting ones here were kava stress candy (in blister packs like panadol, and sure enough with a mouth tingle), Mexican chamoy chili-flavoured popping candy, and a whole range of salt water taffy (cooked then ‘pulled’ to incorporate air, with the ‘Taffy Pull’ apparently once the height of Saturday night entertainment - who would've thought).
They also have a very good range of sugar-free sweets, which are taste tested to ensure they’re palatable, and beautiful gift boxes pre-filled with selections of global sweetness. Plus, their pick'n'mix selection is second to none!
Cuba Candy World on upper Cuba Street had me grinning from the get go. The entry is so sunny that you just can’t help but smile.
Although they have packaged sweets and snacks here as well (the Tim Tams did wave at me), the pick’n’mix and drinks fridge is where it's at. The walls are covered in rows and rows of interesting pick'n'mix from favourites like milk bottles and jetplanes to the slightly unusual foam teeths (yes it really was written like that), filled crossiants (as was that), fried eggs, sugared mushrooms and cola snakes.
And to wash it all down, a really interesting array of drinks - Dr Pepper, Arizona iced tea, Hanks gourmet sodas, Ben Shaw's Dandelion and Burdock classic, English Vimto and more.
If you haven’t got time to pick yourself, they’ve packaged up the popular sweets into convenient take-away containers. Too easy.
And finally I staggered into Moore Wilson's to buy my jar (upstairs homeware) and check out the confectionery (downstairs Fresh). While there’s quite a bit of chocolate, they also showcase local artisans like Decorada, Totara Cottage, Janus Bakery, Kapiti Candies, Laughing Owl, Montfoort and Arobake, as well as some from further afield.
I discovered moreish nutty 'Amazeballs' which were a welcome respite from all the sweetness, decadent peanut butter and jelly chocolate from the Wellington Chocolate Factory and Fix & Fogg, crunchy and nostalgic hokey pokey from Kapiti Candies (note to self – goes soft after opening and sticks to everything in sight!), and beautiful bursts of Belgium-ness from Arobake to finish.
Someone find me a stretcher.
There’s also Kirby’s Candies on Lambton Quay and the bottom of Spark Central on Willis Street, specialising in pre-packaged sweets and boxes of chocolates. The ideal place to grab that gift on the go.
And this is how the jar turned out (but shhhh, don’t tell my friend…).