Edmonton Journal: Hitting the sweet spot with local caramels by new entrepreneurs
Published on: May 19, 2016 | Last Updated: May 25, 2016 6:48 AM MDT
Tammy Lok expected to have sweet memories from her honeymoon. But a sweet business, too?
Indeed, Caramia caramels, which launched at the City Market’s outdoor kickoff this past weekend, was inspired by a selection of delicious candies that Lok and her new husband, Alvin, brought back to Edmonton from their European honeymoon in 2015. Lok gave some of the caramels to her sister-in-law, Alysia Lok, and the two of them were similarily smitten.
“The European caramels are not as sweet, more creamy,” says Alysia, 27, recalling how she relished each taste of the buttery souvenir and had trouble sharing them with her boyfriend. “Because we had a very small bag, it went by very quick and my brother said, ‘Why don’t you try and make some?’ ”
So in January, Tammy and Alysia, who used to be room mates and are the best of friends, began experimenting. Alysia, a mortgage broker, has a degree in food science and nutrition and came up with a variety of flavour choices. Tammy, who works in new home sales, put her marketing degree to work to develop a website and social media strategy. The partners have been in Alysia’s kitchen until two or three in the morning these last couple of weeks, toiling to create some 250 bags of sweets for their first market outing.
“We totally kept it a complete secret from our friends and family, because we wanted to have that wow factor,” says Alysia. “It’s been hard to keep the secret, but we’re glad we did.”
The caramels come in five flavours, including Root Beer Caramel Float, a limited edition geared to summer. The other flavours are Smoked Maple Bacon, Earl Grey, Sriracha Roasted Almond and the Original. The caramels are melt-in-your mouth, not like the jaw-straining cubes traditionally found in the bottom of the pillowcase at Halloween. The candies last two to three weeks, but are meant to be eaten right away.
“We realized there is a gap in the market here for artisanal caramels,” says Alysia. “Not many people have tried them or have access to them. Ours are pretty different.”
Caramia is one of nearly 200 vendors at the City market, which is located at Jasper Ave. and 104 St. and draws an estimated 20,000 people on a sunny Saturday. The Lok duo will be at their booth almost every weekend until the market closes come fall (check their fetching website for full details).
“It’s such a great vibe downtown, and everyone is so friendly,” says Tammy, 30. “We felt very welcome from the first day … and we’re super excited to share with everyone.”