Behind the happy swirls, colourful stars and flavoured hearts of Kandee Factory’s candies is a story that starts in Europe

Mahesh Dharam’s home in Adyar is drenched in the sweet smell of candy. Walk into the manufacturing area and you’ll see four women at work, rolling out long strips of colourful sugar dough — some red, some orange and some, a mix of bright, sunny colours. This is Kandee Factory.

Time to perfect

On a trip to Europe, Mahesh was drawn to the colourful candy swirls, and so, when he got back, he worked on the recipe that took 18 months and 250 kilos of wasted sugar to perfect. Now, along with his wife and father, he has turned Kandee into a family business.

“We manufacture handmade gourmet candy using an old European technique where we boil the sugar, add the flavours and aerate the dough manually,” he explains. “It’s a 250-year-old process. But there was no one to teach me the art. A lot of research and trial and error has brought this along. Of course, it was also that childhood passion for cooking that awoke suddenly.”

Kandee Factory began selling candy canes and now offers candies in 12 flavours. “Candy canes are seasonal, and we started off with them last Christmas. We were sold out in hours! That’s when we decided to take this further,” says Mahesh, who quit a corporate job to do this full time. “Now we have swirl pops, heart-shaped and star-shaped candy. Since they’re made by hand, each product is unique. And, we use double-refined sugar.”

The factory churns out about 15 kg of candy a day. “It takes us nearly eight hours for this. We hope to increase production to 50 kg. For now, we deliver at about 40 outlets across the city.” The products will soon be available online across the country via Lime Road. There are also plans for a separate outlet.

Strawberry, orange, blueberry and fruit fusion are their most popular flavours. “We have a couple of ‘adult’ flavours — we add rum and brandy flavour to the candy. It’s quite popular with the party-going crowd,” Mahesh says.

Experiments

“Every Saturday, we experiment with flavours (we give our staff a free hand at it too) and if we like any one of them, we see how it does with our customers.” The candies are priced between Rs. 60 and Rs. 100.

“We try to keep the use of colours minimal and will soon be changing to organic ingredients.”

(Kandee Factory’s products are available at Gourmei Market, Express Avenue, Nuts and Spices, Brown Tree, Mera Toys, Lil Mischief, N2H and other outlets)