After three successful years in New York, Scandinavian candy store Sockerbit is opening up its first store on the West coast.
Ever since the Swedish candy store Sockerbit opened its doors in New York three years ago, Swedish Angelenos have been waiting anxiously for a West coast expansion. Since about a week ago, just in time to fill up those Easter eggs, the wait is over. Sockerbit: Sweet & Swedish, just opened its second store in the U.S., located on 3rd and Fairfax, right next to the Farmers Market.
Not that Sockerbit’s products cater only to a Swedish, or even Scandinavian, crowd; quite the opposite. If anything, co-owners and married couple Stefan Ernberg and Florencia Baras have managed to get New Yorkers in general hooked on what Swedes brag like to think of as the best candy in the world.
– When we first opened the store our customers were mostly Scandinavian, says Stefan Ernberg. But we got a lot of really positive press and more and more people found out about us. Now it has turned into a destination, part of peoples’ thing to do during the weekend.
When it comes to favorites, Americans like their sour candy, explains Stefan. Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, another bestseller is the licorice. In the early days, Sockerbit offered a mere handful of different licorice; today it is well over 20.
There’s the sweet and the semi sweet and licorice with various degrees of saltiness and different fillings. Then there’s the chewy and the hard and the fruity and the coconut flavored and, well, the list goes on.
It’s an actual process getting people to appreciate licorice, Stefan Ernberg explains, laughing. First, people try the sweet flavor, then they move on to the next level, the less salty, and then the salty and so on.
Apart from all the licorice, one might wonder what is so special about Swedish candy to merit it being exported to the U.S.?
The short answer, argues Stefan Ernberg, is that it simply tastes so much better (see!). A somewhat biased answer, but, he goes on to explain, there is actually a difference. The candy you find at Sockerbit contains no trans fats, GMO’s or high fructose corn syrup, and the coloring comes mostly from nature. This brings out the unique flavors in the candy, he says, as opposed to tasting just sweet and artificial.
Anyone who has visited Sockerbit in New York will recognize the interior design of the L.A. store. The clean white walls and simple design make the colorful candy stand out and the soft corners of the furniture is reminiscent of the particular piece of candy it’s named after. “Sockerbit” roughly translates to “sugar cube,” its candy version being a square, white marshmallow, only more compact and chewier, with rounded corners.
While all the sweet stuff remains the staple goods of Sockerbit, to call it a candy store does no longer do justice to its line of products. As New York customers started asking for other Scandinavian goods, Stefan and Florencia decided to expand their range of products with a variety of foods and designer goods. Today, they refer to Sockerbit as a Scandinavian concept store and they have made it their mission to make sure customers find something new and exciting every time they stop by for a visit.
With a second store now open for business, it seems there is no stopping the further expansion of Swedish candy in the U.S. Stefan and Florencia’s shortlist of cities to expand to includes San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, Washington, and at some point also a hop over to Toronto.
Speaking of Canada, the one thing you will never find on the shelves of Sockerbit is the “Swedish Fish.” The little red herrings Americans have been eating all these years are actually made in Ontario, Canada and they contain most of that stuff Sockerbit strives to avoid. The real Swedish Fish, the ones actually made in Sweden, contain a natural food coloring that cannot be imported to the U.S.
Which is unfortunate, since the real deal is less artificial and—take it from a fellow Swede—really does taste so much better.
Text & photo: Ingegerd Landström
Sockerbit: Sweet & Swedish is located on 7922 West 3rd Street.