Debbie nailed it the other day when she said that what Papabubble's really selling in their sleek new New York City outpost is just "old-lady candy repackaged to look cool and mod. And it works." Indeed it does. If you're at all susceptible to the lure of good design, just try to walk out of there without plunking down an absurd amount of money for a bag or five of hard candy. Especially, I imagine, if you catch them cooking and stretching and shaping and slicing up their taffy-like wads right there in the store behind the counter.
Of course, it helps that, for the most part, Papabubble delivers on the promise of their packaging, using natural flavors and essential oils to turn the standard recipe of sugar, water and glucose into something... not transcendent, for sure, but certainly a sweet treat that's several cuts above any sucking candy I can remember ever eating before. Anyway, my eager-to-volunteer younger daughter Co and I sampled a number of flavors over this past week, and here's what we think.
A solid selection for newbies like us was the Morris Mix, which seemed to have a little bit everything in the fruit and mint category. The flavors here really are quite extraordinary in some cases—it actually tastes like, say, strawberry, or lemon, and not like "red", or "yellow"—and because they're so intense, you really only need (or want) two or three small pieces to satisfy whatever craving led you here in the first place.
The best bag we tried, however, was filled with Acid Drops, which had all the pleasures of the fruit suckers above with the added bonus of actually being sour enough to provoke puckering throughout. Less eye-opening were the Peppermint Pebbles, which are softer and chalkier than the regular candies. No question, these are top-of-the-line after dinner mints, but there's no getting around the fact that they are, well... after dinner mints.
Finally, I dove in solo to the Chocolate Mix bag (though I have a confirming report from a trusty field correspondent), which ranged from the strong, very good coffee, to the strong, very gross spearmint.
Papabubble is located on Broome Street between Mulberry and Mott. This is the company's first U.S. store, joining the Barcelona flagship as well as branches in Tokyo and Amsterdam. They make candy behind the counter throughout the day, but apparently I was unlucky and arrived during a break.