We’ve had a lot of national food holidays that have been dedicated to candy. Just take a look at the one we had only last month, National Candy Day. That’s a lot of sweet stuff! But today is dedicated to those suckers made of sugar, the hard, sweet little nubbins of candy that delight every age from one to a hundred and one: hard candy! My boyfriend likes to make fun of my love of hard candy–I brought home a bag of Werther’s Originals and he asked if they came with a complimentary old-person glass candy dish, lol–but I find hard candy to be tasty and fun, in all of its many shapes, sizes, and flavors. The direct definition of hard candy is that it’s a syrup mixture–filled with flavors, colors, and of course, sugar–that’s boiled to a high temperature and then left to cool. The mixture can then be put into molds to harden, or, when it’s just the right temperature, can be manipulated into shapes. Like taffy, candymakers can stretch, loop, and ball their candy mixture into the shapes they want them before the stuff hardens into the hard candy we know today. It’s how lollipops, candy ropes, and braids are made. If you’ve ever seen a candymaker do their thing with hard candy, you’d be amazed at the process it takes just for that little sucker in a candy dish!

I didn’t really know where to go with this national food holiday–we’ve basically highlighted every candy shop in the city worth visiting already, from Dylan’s to Dewey’s and everything in between. But then I found a small, non-storefront company that’s making big waves in the artisan candy world–and they’re located right here in Brooklyn! The Brooklyn Hard Candy Company does just that: makes classic, great-tasting hard candies you can remember from your youth. Nathan Panum and Daniel Mowles, two Le Cordon Bleu-trained chefs who wanted to get a foothold in the New York culinary scene, decided to start their niche business back in 2010 on a foundation of sustainable, Earth-friendly products. They came up with Brooklyn Hard Candy, made in small batches over an open flame and jarred in adorable, yet austere, recycled apothecary jars. You can’t get more of a blend of old-world style and new-world conscientiousness than that. Right now, they only offer 8 flavors–classics like cinnamon, concord grape, wild strawberry, and peppermint–but they’ve been thinking about broadening their flavor spectrum as well as branching out to hard lollipops (watch your back, Papabubble!) They don’t have a storefront yet, but worry not–you can either purchase their candies online, or head to a number of their retailers throughout Brooklyn, including By Brooklyn, a fantastic shop in Cobble Hill that sells products excusively made in Brooklyn. If you’re looking for a great Christmas present this year, either for your friends in New York or the folks back home, The Brooklyn Hard Candy Company is a fantastic selection.

The Brooklyn Hard Candy Company

“BrooklynHardCandy was born in 2010 by Nathan Panum and Daniel Mowles. Both graduates of Le Cordon Bleu London, UK. The two set out to create a craft American candy company that was built on a foundation of using sustainable products and recycled materials. Sourcing the finest flavors and ingredients. Handcrafting the hard candy using old school techniques and modern day formulas. The candy is made in small artisanal batches over an open flame and then bottled in a glass apothecary jar with a cork lid.”–Brooklyn Hard Candy Co.

“Actually making the candy is fairly straightforward (cook the sugar, add color and flavor, then shape the hot candy), but they set their product apart from others on the market by avoiding incorporating air into the candy. Other candymakers go this route, Panum says, because it “creates a certain sheen in the look of the candy, which is nice, but it also creates a rough and, in our opinion, unpleasant mouth feel.” So they developed a system of rolling (rather than pulling, which traps air in the product) the warm, flexible candy into long strands, then cutting them into bite-size pieces that harden as they cool. Until last month, they were using candy shears to cut all of the candy by hand, but after designing and commissioning the manufacture of a cutting machine they’ve been able to boost production tenfold and save a lot of wear and tear on their tendons.”–Serious Eats

“These sweets—in flavors like wild strawberry, pineapple, Concord grape, and tangerine—come in handsome apothecary-style jars and taste as good as they look.”–Brides.com

“”We saw everything moving towards local,” Mowles explained when I recently spent the afternoon with him in Brooklyn. “We knew we wanted to do something sweet, but everyone was doing chocolate. After that it was just finding the right type of sweet that we could make our own.” Standout flavors include Wild Strawberry and Green Apple (I liked Tangerine and Blueberry too), but all seven have their own secret flavor ingredient, lending a subtly delicious aftertaste.”–Cool Hunting

“Here’s a mantra that’s easy to remember: Do what you do best. Daniel Mowles is really good at making candy, so that’s all he sells. Daniel owns Brooklyn Hard Candy, an online shop that sells a total of six products: blueberry, grape, apple, pineapple, strawberry and tangerine. He doesn’t offer 100 different sizes and a confusing amount of shipping options. He knows candy and that’s all he sells. Straightforward. To the point. The simple look and feel of his website makes for intuitive navigation so shoppers don’t have to over think anything. All Daniel’s homemade candy sells for $8 and he’s having trouble keeping it on the shelf.”–AOL Small Business

“It’s like the people over at Brooklyn Hard Candy knew what my favorite fruits were: blueberry, golden pineapple and concord grape. In addition to those flavors I just mentioned, there’s also tangerine, wild strawberry and green apple (boy oh boy-the hardest thing about having to choose a flavor is which one to choose!!) These candies were definitely an incredible and mouthwatering experience. Instead of having that rough texture you get from Jolly ranchers and other hard candies at your local grocery/drugstore, as soon as I popped one of these into my mouth, it’s like the candy melted in my mouth. Not literally melted as in turned into liquid, but the candy was super smooth and pleasant feeling, nothing like I’ve ever felt just eating regular candy. The fruity flavors were definitely there and were essentially perfect-I easily could have eaten the entire bottle in one day.”–Bella Vivere


Make sure you check out the updated NYC Food Holidays Map to find this most recent holiday!