These are busy times for local candy shops, but lyrical treat is missing
There is no other confection that gets such positive publicity this time of year as the elusive sugarplum.
Consider the passage from Clement Clark Moore’s classic poem, “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” aka “’Twas the Night Before Christmas”
“The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugarplums danced in their heads ....”
Russian composer Pytor Ilyich Tchaikovsky also paid tribute to the seasonal treat in “The Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy,” included in his two-act ballet “The Nutcracker.”
But what exactly are sugarplums and can you buy any around here?
Melissa Suddendorf, co-owner of CoCa LeNa, 327 N. Franklin St., noted Port Washington’s newest candy shop has been selling plenty of holiday goodies, but not any sugarplums.
“No, we don’t carry anything we call sugarplums. I am not even sure what they are, maybe sugared fruit or marzipan formed in the shape of a plum,” Suddendorf said.
The treats the shop does carry have proven to be a big hit with holiday shoppers, who often stroll from across the street, where Suddendorf and Jamie Morgan also operate the Pear and Simple gift boutique.
The stores share the same sales staff.
“We were thinking about opening a candy shop for a long time, but couldn’t decide whether to open in October or February,” Suddendorf said.
The fall opening capitalized on the Christmas trade, and the shop has proven to be a sweeping success.
“We have almost sold out of all our Christmas stock,” she said a week before the holiday.
“It won’t be long before we are putting out our Valentine’s Day stock.”
The shop’s signature item is what the owners have labeled Sweetgrams, themed boxed gifts that include candy, a piece of drinkware and a specialty piece.
Throughout the year, one wall of the shop is lined with colorful jars of old-time, bulk candy.
“The candy jars are a big hit with the kids and adults. People can’t believe we have all this candy from when they were growing up,” Suddendorf said.
She said the store has been warmly received during its first holiday season, a trend the owners anticipate will carry throughout the year.
“Luckily, a lot of people are candy fanatics. We expect there will be plenty of business,” Suddendorf said.
As for the shop’s unusual name, CoCa LeNa, it is a nod to the owners’ four children — Cody and Leena Suddendorf and Caleb and Natalie Morgan.
The quest for sugarplums encountered another dead-end at Port’s other dedicated candy store, The Chocolate Chisel, 125 W. Grand Ave.
There, chocolatier Brooke Cole said the shop had hoped to offer a sugarplum truffle for Christmas.
“That plan hit a few hiccups. Maybe we will try again next year,” Cole said.
The store’s handcrafted artisan chocolates continue to be a big hit for gift-givers looking for something special.
Especially appealing for those with local roots is the shop’s online ordering option.
“All of our specialty truffles and gift boxes are selling like crazy,” Cole said.
As for sugarplums, even candy experts seem to be divided over what the treats are and how they are made.
Most sources say the confection dates to the 1600s and involved layering of hardened sugar in a process called dragee.
No actual fruit was used. The plum is believed to be a reference to the treat’s oval shape.
CHRISTMAS IS A sweet season thanks to local candy shops, such as the recently opened CoCa LeNa in Port Washington. Along with an assortment of candy canes and decorative seasonal goodies, the store offers old-fashioned bulk candy. Shop co-owner Melissa Suddendorf (at right) retrieved some sweets from a wall of canisters. Photos by Mark Jaeger