Thursday, June 30, 2011

Au Revoir Teaberry!

We've been doing a lot of flavor prototyping and testing and you'll soon see the partial results of that when we launch the new Cherries Jubilee flavor in our Celebration Time collection in a little less than two weeks. 

The rest of the results will be found in a refresh of our Adventurer's Pack. The pack will expand to include 4 flavors: Pistachio-Marshmallow and 3 yet-to-be-announced flavors. Nutmeg Creme can already be found in the Spice Rack; but tingly Teaberry will be retiring. We'll give her a gold watch and wish her well... We'll sell off our current batch of Teaberry dozens, and that will be it! 
photo by Kevin Keeker
We wanted to let her loyal fans know so they could get them while they could. So if you are one of the Teaberry lovers, get your lollipops while you can.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Large Orders & Shipping Charges

photo by Kevin Keeker
Etsy is wonderful in that they let you charge less in shipping when a customer buys more than one item from your shop. So we can calculate how much we should charge for the first item you buy, and have smaller shipping fee for additional items that you order. We've done the math (and boy do we like math!) to calculate how much we should charge for typical orders.

However, sometimes we get atypically large orders. If you're going to buy, say, more than 4 dozen lollipops, you might want to drop us a line and tell us a) what you want to order and b) what your zip code is. Oftentimes, we can reduce the shipping charges when you're buying a lot of lollipops. And if you're within Seattle, you might be able to skip the shipping charges altogether by arranging a local pick-up with Susan.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Weddings and Lollipops

photo from Shelby & Andrew Cavette
Some of our customers bought a few dozen of our lollipops as favors for their wedding and had these cute labels made for them. I think they look awesome. Congratulations!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Cherries Jubilee

Yesterday was the first time I made our new flavor, Cherries Jubilee and I couldn't help snapping a couple of quick iPhone photos of the occasion.

Here they are, after they've been poured. It is probably hard to tell in this one, but they're a lovely pure red that's been shot through with sparkly lavender.

Now, the Cherries Jubilee lollipops have been bagged and await their silver wire ties to finish off their outfits. I admit I got a little excited when I saw how beautiful the blue wrappers looked on them:

They are ready for their (blurry) close-up!

We're excited to bring you this flavor, which combines the yumminess of Washington Cherry goodness with a boozy hint of buttery Rum. Look for Cherries Jubilee to debut at Seattle's Urban Craft Uprising show, July 9-10 and debuting in our Etsy shop shortly thereafter -- we gotta take much better photos than these first!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Eye Candy: A Tiffany Cake

photo stolen from Dessert Girl, who has
a beautiful website you should be reading
That? Is a cake. And it is gorgeous. It's one of many, many beautiful cakes that Maggie Austin Cake (from Washington, DC) features on her website. I would love to have one someday.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Why Handmade Hard Candy?

What makes our small-batch handmade hard candy lollipops superior to mass-produced ones? Obviously, one way is that we take chances on creative, unusual flavors that you rarely find from other candy makers. Some the special characteristics of our lollipops might be less obvious until you’ve eaten them or at least seen them up close; namely: their smooth, dense texture and how beautifully clear they are.
photo by Kevin Keeker

Why does texture matter? If you’re a biter, and you chomp on our lollipops, they cleave more cleanly than mass produced ones, which are prone to shattering when bitten.

We achieve this texture by refraining from overworking the syrup after it has reached the hard crack stage (~300 F). Commercially produced hard candy usually has the color and flavorings worked into the syrup after it has cooked. Our small-batch methods use a few techniques to avoid overworking the syrup.
We add the coloring while the syrup is still coming up to its final temperature on the stove, leveraging the motion of the bubbling syrup to distribute the color evenly without having to stir it. Working the color in afterward would incorporate air into the product, which makes it more brittle, more light-weight, and frosty-opaque**.

**When we make opaque lollipops, we do it through creative color combinations that don’t compromise the texture of our lollipops.

Mass produced lollipop syrup is also usually worked into a long strip and stamped out into its final form. We use a more time-consuming gravity-pour method to portion the syrup smoothly into individual lollipop molds instead of using machines to stamp them.

If you’ve had our lollipops, how do you think they compare to big commercially produced brands in terms of texture and appearance?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Labeled Bags!

After a mad day of stickering, the Cherries Jubilee labeled bags are all boxed up, ready to be sent off to Susan! They'll join the current Celebration Time flavors, Birthday Cake, Bubble Gum, and Root Beer Float, to create a new 8-pack of joyful deliciousness!

(Note: I had a picture of the closed up box to share with you, but blogger isn't letting me upload it for whatever reason. Just imagine a white priority mail box from USPS filled to the brim with bags for lollipops... It's an image that brings a smile to my face.)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Pretty Labels

This bad iphone photo is all
me, Kate Degelau-Pierce.
I just picked up the labels from the printers! I love new label day - I like the huge pile of labels just waiting to end up on bags, sorting it out into the proper storage boxes, seeing the new flavors in print for the first time... Call me a freak (freak!) but it makes me happy.

This out-of-focus photo? Also
all me, Kate Degelau-Pierce.
This is a shot of the pile of labels I will be putting on bags this week so we can put the freshly made lollipops into them this weekend. Don't they look pretty?

We use Express Printing here in Sunnyvale. They always give us good service and detailed quotes for any special projects. I brought the blank labels in on Wednesday, placed my order, asked for them to be done by the following Monday, and they called me on Thursday morning saying they were ready! I was incredibly happy. We like 'em. :)

Monday, June 20, 2011


We've been slowly moving all of our collections to have 8 lollipops instead of 6. We've already moved Nutmeg Creme to the Spice Rack, and added Hazelnut-Coffee to Breakfast Tray, and of course, Fruit Basket has been 8 lollipops all along. If you've been watching us on Facebook or Twitter, you'll know we've been testing new flavors.

We'll premiere the new 8-lollipop version of Celebration Time at Urban Craft Uprising. We tested many new flavors, but the winner is.... Cherries Jubilee! The mix of cherry and rum flavors beat out orange creamsicle and pralines & cream (and others) in our rounds of taste-testing. Plus, the name was a perfect fit.

Keep an eye out for more info about Cherries Jubilee and we've been testing even more new flavors for the  Adventurer's Pack, which will be expanding in late summer.

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Search Is On

We mentioned when the Fruit Basket collection launched in April that all of our flavor collections will have 4 flavors in them eventually. So far, we’ve updated the Spice Rack and Breakfast Tray to have four flavors in them, which leaves the Celebration Time and Adventurer’s Pack still looking for their new flavors.

We’re in the midst of doing experimentation and taste-testing and just wanted to share a quick update on some flavors that haven’t made the bar for Celebration Time:
photo by Kevin Keeker

Orange Creamsicle was a middle-of-the-pack contender – some of our taste testers really liked it, but many thought it was just 'so-so’. Kate and I liked it, but we agreed with our testers that we put forth a few more worthy candidates. Sorry Orange Creamsicle!

photo by Kevin Keeker

Pralines and Cream was one that we shelved before letting too many people taste-test it because it uses natural pecan flavoring. We’ve already got one flavor that has natural nut flavor in it – Hazelnut-Coffee – and while that one is quite popular, we debated between ourselves and decided we didn’t want to introduce another flavor that couldn’t be enjoyed by the nut-allergic.

As an aside, these are our new taste-tester pops. They’re a little smaller than the ones we usually sell, so we can get more out of a test batch. Our motto is: when it comes to taste testing, the more tongues the better! Using smaller pops lets us get more data points, and here at This Charming Candy, we are nothing if not data nerds!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Selling Live and In Person at The Wandering Cafe

We'll be selling lollipops live and in person at The Wandering Cafe from 4pm - 7pm on Monday June 20th. Stop on by if you live in Seattle and want to try some of our tasty lollipops! If you want to ping us ahead of time with an order for pick up, that would be awesome and wonderful too. Take a look at our flavors page or our Etsy shop to see what's available.

Who: You
What: Buying Lollipops
Where: The Wandering Cafe, 7533 Lake City Way NE, Seattle, WA 98115
When: Monday June 20th, 4pm - 7pm
Why: Because you want your candy now and not wait for delivery. Plus you want to try a delicious empanada.
How: Visit the store, make your choice, and pay by cash, credit or check.

p.s. I plan to have lollipops for taste testing with me, in case you're interested in giving feedback on a new flavor.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Hockey Wednesday / Eye Candy

In honor of tonight’s Game 7 in the Stanley Cup finals… behold the brilliance of Don Cherry Jacket Watch, wherein the sartorial choices of CBC’s commentator extraordinaire are chronicled for posterity.
I won’t do anything crass like steal their pictures – instead, I present some of my own screenshots from my archives as inducement for you to check out their far superior collection. These are from back when I had cable TV and stuff. They are probably all pre-2008. Likely older.
Love you, Grapes!! and GO CANUCKS.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Etsy Features: Activity Feeds and Circles

Etsy launched a new feature called circles three or four months ago. It took us forever to figure out how it worked for us, and there was a lot of handwringing in the forums about what it meant. Then, we decided to think about it like we think about twitter. And then it made a lot more sense.

So, you remember last week I talked about favorites and treasuries? Basically, every time you add a favorite or make a treasury, it's like tweeting. A notice will go out to all your followers (e.g. to everyone whose circle you're in) that you made a treasury or favorited something, with a link to your treasury or the item you favorited. Your activity feed is the collection of all those items and treasuries that people you follow (e.g. who you've added to your circle) have made or favorited. 

Getting started can be a challenge. The trick is to add people to your circle whose taste matches yours. But how do you find people who like what you like? I started by looking through the big all-treasuries list to find treasuries I liked. If there was someone who made a lot of treasuries, then I added them. We also try to stay active - adding items we find that we like and making lots, but not too many, treasuries.

Being in activity feeds really helps drive traffic to our shop - it's a great way for buyers to find our stuff, and it's a great way for us to find some really awesome things. Like this cute little turtle.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Liberte & Pomegranate

photo by Kevin Keeker
When Liberte started carrying our products awhile back*, she approached us about having a custom flavor all to herself - that only she offered. We worked with her to figure out what would be the best fit, and it turned out that she loveloveloved our Pomegranate lollipops!

We don't offer this flavor for sale anymore, but you can still find it at Liberte skin & wellness.

* She offers them as treats to her clients while she's helping them look as beautiful as possible.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Eye Candy: Pineapples and Psych

photo from far4
Susan and I are big fans of Pysch, which is an awesomely funny show. We recommend that you watch it. There's a pineapple in each episode, somewhere. They don't usually call attention to it, and finding it is part of the fun. So when Susan found this ceramic pineapple on the far4 website, there might have been squeeing. I'm still debating whether or not to send it to @psychwrites.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Etsy Teams

What is an Etsy Team?

The simple answer is: a group of sellers who've come together to help strengthen their shops and lend support to each other.

The more complex answer is that teams are organizations that help us new small businesses learn from each other. They hold group sales, like the EtsyRain show that we did in May. There are meet ups and email discussion threads and networking events and forums and more! If you have an Etsy shop, we recommend joining a few teams. You'll learn tons.

FYI: Susan is a member of EtsyRain - a group of Etsy sellers based in Seattle - and I'm a member of SFEtsy - a group of Etsy sellers based in the San Francisco Bay Area. The shop is part of the Etsy Ugly Cute team, which is a group of sellers around a particular aesthetic.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Attractive Things Work Better

We care a lot about the color of our lollipops and how the wrappers look. We would be a worse brand if it weren't for the work of Justine Kamionsky, our fabulous designer.
photo by Kevin Keeker
Don Norman has a classic post on why and how we think beautiful things work better. (Hopefully, it also makes them taste better.) I'm also a big fan of The Substance of Style.

Photo by Kevin Keeker
We care about beauty in our lollipops because we know it makes you like them more. We love looking at them and eating them. It's one of the reasons they make great gifts.

We hope you think so too.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

What Is Etsy?

We haven't done an intro post to Etsywhere we sell, in a looooong time. It's time for one.

So what is Etsy? Etsy is a marketplace, a bit like eBay, where people who make things can sell them to people who like to buy vintage or handmade goods. There are some really great things to buy on Etsy, like our lollipops or Mena Dragonfly's pottery or PepoPark's soap or a million other things.

Because there are so *many* interesting handmade and vintage goods on Etsy, sometimes finding something you like can be a challenge. There are traditional ways to find beautiful things on Etsy, like browsing categories or searching. But there are other great ways too. You can find a beautiful, fun crafter like imakecutestuff and look at what she likes on Etsy - something called her favorites. You can also take a taste test, where Etsy will show you some items and as you rate them, Etsy will find and recommend items to you as well. Or, there are treasuries. Treasuries are collections of 16 items that someone has created around a theme - like this one that we made about a Mother's Day brunch. There are a ton of them out there, and sometimes they're organized around a color or an animal or a mood or whatever the curator felt like.

We obviously like Etsy. It's a fun place to find really cool things (like these little robots) and marvel at how much beautiful, creative stuff there is out there! You should head over and see for yourself.

If you're curious, you can view our favorites and treasuries.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Small Batches

The slogan in our Etsy shop says, “Small-batch, Artisan Lollipops”. What do we mean by small-batch?
photo by Kevin Keeker
Well, here are my saucepans. They aren’t big enough to cook a pound of spaghetti for dinner, but they are plenty big enough to cook a pound and half of sugar.

On my most productive days, I can make several batches totalling ~500 lollipops in the rental kitchen. Industrial lollipop production uses machines that are capable of making and wrapping up to 600 flat lollipops per minute. So yeah, our batches are a little smaller than those of mass-producers!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Eye Candy: The Tilting Teapot

photo from Winkypedia
Susan has this amazing and lovely teapot from a German company called Ronnefeldt. It's beautiful, and there's this whole process that winkypedia does a lovely job of explaining. You put the tea leaves and hot water in and a few minutes later delicious tea comes out. I love using it when I visit TCC North.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Ugly Salted Caramel Lollipops

Because Salted Caramel is our most popular flavor (some of our customers call it ‘crack on a stick’), we make it more often than any other flavor. Makes sense, right?

Well, that means we accumulate Salted Caramel Charm School Dropouts more quickly than we do for other flavors. Every now and then we have enough of these under poured, over poured, or just plain blobby and weird looking rejects to just bag them up all on their own.
photo by Kevin Keeker
This lollipop is under-poured, and the syrup was getting cold which is why it hasn’t enveloped the salt more completely. I love how you can see the rough texture of that exposed salt here – it even casts a shadow on the stick.

Right now we’ve got a few bags of all-Salted Caramel dropouts in stock. Get ‘em while they last!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

We Do It By Hand

I recently came across this old picture – I can tell it’s old because the Vanilla-Cardamom label on the lollipop bag has a charcoal background with orange text. Those colors are reversed in our current labeling, for greater readability contrast :-)
photo by Kevin Keeker

Those are my (gloved) hands, sliding the bottom of the bag open and slipping the lollipop inside. After I bag all of the lollipops in the batch, I wrap a thick silver foil band around their necks to hold the bags closed. After all this time, I’m still wildly in love with how special and pretty our candy looks when it’s all finished:
photo by Kevin Keeker