For twenty years, Mitch Broder wrote about New York for the nation’s largest newspaper chain. On Mitch Broder’s Vintage New York, he covers the best places that take you back in time, whether you are revisiting a time or just now discovering it.
I admire a store that’s named after a lump of sugar, even if persons not fluent in Swedish might think it was named after a tool kit.The store is Sockerbit, which earns a vÃƒ ¤lkommen simply for being a new store in the West Village that isn’t named after Marc Jacobs.
My admiration may seem as odd as the store, in light of my visceral reaction to the likewise austere Il Laboratorio del Gelato. Sockerbit, after all, is so utterly, blindingly white that even people besides me have looked in and thought it was still under construction.
But Sockerbit at least doesn’t fancy itself a lab. Outside of touting natural ingredients, it is unrepentantly a candy store. You walk in, you squint, you grab a white scoop, you fill a white bag with neon Scandinavian sweets, at $12.99 a pound.
Once you acclimate, it can be jolly. It has a whole wall of exotic candies – 148 different ones, soon to be 168. And they have jolly names, at least if you’re not Swedish, and maybe even if you are. It’s hard to picture anyone saying skumbananer with a straight face.
That’s the name for the banana variety of the store’s namesake. Sockerbit refers to a sugar cube but also to a chewy cubic marshmallow. The store, in fact, is modeled after it; everything’s white with rounded corners. You are consumed by the marshmallow you have come to consume.
The store is the creation of Stefan Ernberg, who is from Sweden, and his wife, Florencia Baras, who is from Argentina. They say they’re the first to tap what they see as a giant U.S. market for Scandinavian candy. Americans, they seem to hope against hope, may have had their fill of Snickers.
The store was popular while I was there. Lots of people came in and scooped. Stefan and Florencia said that the licorice flavors are among the best sellers. Those include kanderade hÃƒ ¤xvrÃƒ ¥l, salta blÃƒ ¤ckfiskar, salmiakmatta, and smultronmatta. You can check my diacritical marks when you go.
The store sells a few other foods, including Swedish meatball mix and lingonberries, so you can eat at home the way they do at IKEA. And Stefan says that next month they plan to add a little cafÃ© serving Swedish coffee and cinnamon rolls. That’ll block more of the white.
Ironically, the Swedish candy Americans know is the one they don’t have. American Swedish Fish, Florencia says, are made in Canada, and Swedish Swedish Fish can’t be imported.
But they do have sur skumfisk. And pasta basta cola. And grÃƒ ¶na grodor.
I could go on, but I won’t.
Except to say … ha en sÃƒ ¶t dag!
Pick your smÃƒ ¥godis at Sockerbit, 89 Christopher Street, between Bleecker Street and Seventh Avenue South, in Manhattan.