In Lewis Carroll’s Alice Adventures in Wonderland, and Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, “Carroll wrote books to give pleasure to children,” according to The World Book Encyclopedia, “but adults also enjoy the humor, fantastic characters, and adventures in the stories.” Last Friday afternoon, I went to meet with Mr. Jigs Patel, the owner of The London Candy Company, and I was in a wonderland of candy in the Yorkville Manhattan Neighborhood.
The London Candy Company is located on the Upper East Side at 1442 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10128. It is indeed, a happy land of delectable chocolate candy treats.
On June 22, I met with Jigs Patel and we talked about his successful business, at the same time, Mommies and Daddies strolled in with eager children; the soundtrack of “Sade” played in the background; the space is adorned with the British flag of red, white and blue; and one feels the culture of Great Britain—the flavor of London. I felt right at home, sitting at the spacious window counter at The London Candy Company on East 94th Street.
And so, I give you my conversation with Jigs Patel.
When I think of London, I fancy tea. What is your favorite tea? I would have to say a combination of either Earl Grey or English Breakfast Tea.
Do you brew your tea in a special tea pot? The tea pot is more symbolic of what the UK would describe their tea time as. So at the moment, we have a “Tea Cosi” that’s been designed for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. I have noticed over time the amount of tea pot sales probably have diminished…now that coffee is such a big part of people’s lives.
Even in London? Yes, in London, Starbucks has really created a huge niche in what people’s perceptions are about coffee. So, I definitely would say that tea drinking has dramatically been reduced; it is still very quintessential British; but majority of people I know, drink coffee.
The coffee is very good, by the way? Thank you—you are drinking coffee from a company called “Stumptown” and the brew was a bean called Hairbender.
How did you come up with the idea for The London Candy Company? My original concept was to open up a restaurant here in the New York City, that’s what I did in the UK. But—with the economy the way it is, and the fact that New York is full of so many good restaurants, I came up with a new idea. Then I found that every time I was coming from the UK to the U.S., people were asking me to bring them chocolates. And I never understood why people were asking me to bring Kit Kats—because the U.S. had Kit Kats. But Kit Kats are made in the U.S. by Hershey, and everywhere else around the world Kit Kats are made by Nestle. So there are different ingredients that go into the UK chocolates compared to the ingredients in the U.S.
Earlier, I had mentioned to my niece Dahlia that I was on my way to an interview, and I asked her: “What is your favorite chocolate?” She said Kit Kats. People are not aware of the ingredients. The difference is the cocoa beans. Europe tends to buy their cocoa beans from Africa and America tends to buy their cocoa beans from South America. So the chocolate bar looks exactly the same, but taste different.
You have created your own niche in New York City. It also helps with the American love affair with anything English, British—especially with London as well. Last year was a high note with the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton; and this year, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, in addition to the greatest sporting event to be happening in London: The Olympics.
What is the Top Five Chocolates Treats at The London Candy Company? 1) Cadbury’s Crunchie Bar, 2) Nestle Aero, 3) Maynards Wine Gums, 4) Jelly Babies, and 5) Yorkie Bar.
How long have you been in business? It’s coming up to 16 months now—there is a sense of a neighborhood; we see the same faces and families; and support a lot of the local schools.
Meanwhile, two petite and pretty Moms were sitting next to Jigs and I at the counter. They were with their sons, and I started another conversation:
“Hi, I see your children are enjoying their chocolates. Do you come here a lot?”
“Yes, we come every day. It’s like your old fashioned candy shop. It’s amazing.”
“My name is Wanda; I was interviewing Jigs about The London Candy Company.”
“Hi, my name is Jessica, and my sister’s name is Sascha.”
“What is your favorite Mommy treat?” I asked.
“I love the coffee and anything dark chocolate.” Jessica said. “They have really good coffee and my husband loves the Cadbury’s bars.”
“What about your son?” I asked.
“Lucas, what’s your favorite?”Jessica asked.
“I like the Tea Cake.” He said. “They are the best and I like their ice cream, too.”
“Oh, yes, the ice cream is brilliant. We love it.” Jessica smiled at Lucas.
“And another thing, we like is the Kit Kats, they are so good. I never knew there was a difference until I tasted The London Candy Company’s Kit Kats,” said Jessica.
“What else do you like about The London Candy Company?” I asked.
“I love stopping by to purchase gifts for my family and friends.” She said. “For Easter we bought the nicest chocolate treats to go into the Easter Baskets. They do a very nice presentation, it’s beautiful and it makes a difference.”
Jessica, continued: “It’s such a great addition to the neighborhood. There is nothing like it. The staff, they are great; they are so knowledgeable about the products; and they know everything about London. It has that perfect balance for families and it’s a fun experience.”
Then, I turned to Lucas, “What do you like about coming here?”
“I like the yummy, yummy stuff,” a bright-eyed Lucas said.
Catch it if you can at www.thelondoncandycompany.com