Food, food culture, food as culture and the cultures that grow our food

Papabubble is pure sugar finger lickin’

October 18, 2005

Loyal culiblog readers know that I’m not a big fan of sweets, but sometimes sugar is coaxed by masterful hands into shapes and colours so beautiful, and with flavours so delicious, that it’s all I can do to keep from hauling off and giving it a good lickin’. At the moment of writing, I’m popping acid drops, one after another into my mouth and sucking them so violently, that I shall surely be giving myself a blister.

Which brings me to papabubble, the source of these acid drops that are doing all the damage to the roof of my mouth. When I returned to Amsterdam this Autumn, a new shop had occupied Harlemmerdijk 70, and I became a fan of their candy straight away. Inside the contemporary interior, a noble candy is being produced right before your very eyes. You feel like a child oggling the sculpturally shaped sugar. The concept belongs to Australian papabubble originators, Tommy Tang and Christopher King, who opened the first shop in Barcelona in June 2003, but it was Marieken van den Brink, who studied artisanal candy-making with them, that brought the concept to the Netherlands in 2004. For this she won a Marie Claire Starters Award in 2004, turning her dream and her lolly import business (Lulu Loves Lollies) into papbubble Amsterdam. Nice one. Here’s some money, now go and make some candy.

But it’s not just candy. It’s a very pure, playful and artisanal product that she and her partner, Dominik Otto, and his sister Marie Otto, are making in the Amsterdam shop. It’s all very old-fashioned and sweet. They live upstairs above the shop, and just like in a fairy tale, afternoons the place is a’swarm with children and single women, straight from school and yoga class, that have come in to watch the candy making process and get offered tastes of free candy by the smiling sugar pullers.

What I most love about what is going on at papabubble (aside from the high level of craftsmanship and amazing flavours of sour) was that the molten sugar is truly played with by the candy makers, Dominik and Marie (brother and sister). They don’t throw away the candy ends but turn them into blobbous sculptures and sell them in that form. These blobs of sugar will make a beautiful centrepiece (did I just use the word centrepiece?) at my next dinner party as a communal after-dinner sugar-lick.

More conventionally (but not really) are the hard candy rings, which of course make a right mess if you wear them, but if you’re a child, or if you’re in love and in the mood, they’ll be just the ticket.

‘Hon, lick my finger?’

Haarlemmerdijk 70
1013 JE Amsterdam
tel +31 (0)20 6262662
fax +31 (0)20 6267654

images l to r: Candymaker Marie Otto cuts rolls of hardened sugar into pineapple hard candy, closeup of pineapple candy, a blob of sugar that will feature at my next dinner

images l to r: Papabubble storefront on the Haarlemmerdijk in Amsterdam, closerup of pineapple candy, candymaker and papabubble amsterdam partner Dominik Otto turns molten sugar into glistening white for the pineapple candies to be

debra at 14:13 | | post to


  1. I have just returned to England & finally finished my loveheart lolly, how will i survive without it! resort to eating my childrens whilst their at school nodoubt!
    Only one thing left to do return to Amsterdam for some more, the perfect excuse.
    Thankyou Belinda / England

    Comment by Belinda — November 3, 2005 @ 13:36

  2. Can I purchase some of the candy? Price?
    Can I import some to San Francisco for resale?

    Is there a possibility of learning the technique?
    Rose Ann Anderson

    Comment by Rose Ann Anderson — April 4, 2006 @ 18:21

  3. can i purchase candy ot be shipped to the us???

    Comment by mark — November 11, 2006 @ 3:25

  4. Can we purchase candy (mint flavoured) for our restuarant with our logo on? What will the price be for a bulk order of candy to be shipped to Cape Town, South Africa.

    Comment by vivienne — June 11, 2007 @ 16:40

  5. Is Papabubble coming to NY?

    Comment by NANCY — June 11, 2007 @ 21:22

  6. Can i learn to make it and setup a shop in my city, Pune

    Comment by Sonali — November 13, 2008 @ 13:25

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