Market Tour: Sockerbit is New York's Sweetest Smörgåsbord

[Photographs: Ben Jay]

Several years ago, Florence Baras and Steffan Ernberg were looking to do something different with their lives. Ernberg had some friends in the Swedish candy industry, and building off those connections, the husband-wife duo decided to open a candy store.

"We quickly concluded that we wanted to do this outside of Europe and came up with two potential options, USA or Asia," Baras explained. "We decided for USA as it was closer to Scandinavia [for freight costs] and also due to the fact that no one had ever opened a Swedish candy shop in the US. It was the challenge of being the first one that really made us pick USA."

Three years later, Sockerbit is home to a dizzying array of Scandinavian sweets and possibly New York's best selection of licorice. Most of the candy sold is smågodis, or "small candy," including licorice, marshmallows, chocolates, and hard candies, available in countless combinations of sweet, sour, and salty. In fact, Sockerbit's most unique candies are its salty licorices, or salmiak, which are flavored with ammonium chloride. They're incredibly salty and slightly acidic, almost to the point of stinging, but quite delicious if you can handle the intensity.

Baras and Ernberg pride themselves on stocking candies made with natural colors, free of transfats and GMO ingredients. According to Baras, most of the candy sold is made in Scandinavia. Although some manufacturers have outsourced their operations elsewhere in Europe, they still adhere to Swedish recipes and traditions.

The loose candy sells for $12.99/lb, but chocolate bars and larger boxed, bagged, and prewrapped candies are also available. Sockerbit also has a nice selection of Scandinavian foodstuffs—ranging from frozen limpa bread and meatballs to shrimp spread—that could save you a trip to a certain DIY furniture store in Red Hook.

To celebrate their third anniversary this month, Sockerbit are preparing to open their second location in April. The new store will be in West Hollywood, California on 7922 West 3rd Street, and is expected to open in time for Easter, Sweden's biggest candy holiday.

Until then, you can check out some of what Sockerbit has to offer in the slideshow.