Interview: Margaret Morrison, Founder And Director of Cybercandy

By Rob Last edited 154 months ago
Interview: Margaret Morrison, Founder And Director of Cybercandy

Cybercandy in Covent Garden is one of Londonist's favourites. We used to buy stuff from the website all the time, so imagine how pleased we were when they set up their first 'real world' candy store a couple of years ago.

Now, whenever we return to the office, our pockets bulging with strange looking Japanese confectionary, cans of raspberry favoured coke and lots and lots of cinnamony things (oh, how we love the cinnamony treats) someone will inevitably ask where we got all this great stuff and we have to let them know about this wonderful shop.

In fact we've been preaching the Cybercandy gospel for so long now that we thought we might as well interview one of the founders. So that's what we did.

Age, occupation, where are you from, where are you now?

I am 37, I'm one of the founders and Directors of Cybercandy. I'm originally from Hendon in North London and we are still North London based, our headquarters are in Tottenham, our flaghip shop is in Shelton St Covent Garden, and we opened a new shop in Brighton last summer.

Tell us about the history of Cybercandy? When did you realise that Londoners craved weird sweeties and how did you go about meeting that demand?

Cybercandy was started as a hobby in 1999, just as a website, we found demand growing at once online and after only a few months we realised that it was going to be more than a hobby so my husband gave up his job to run it full time. About two and a half years ago I also went full time to open up our first shop, in Covent Garden. It had become apparent that Londoners and visitors to London did indeed crave the weird sweets, and also as they are so fun and colourful it is nice to be able to actually see them rather than just ordering online.

Cybercandy exterior

What's the best country in the world for sweets?

I'd say Japan - America is fab too and has a great and ever-changing range of candy, but the Japanese sweets are just so nicely packaged, and they are also very high quality. They often come with stickers or toys, and sometimes quite wacky flavours like green tea, cherry blossom or wedding cake. Each sweet is like a lovely little gift!

What's your most popular sweet in the London shop?

Japanese Pocky are very popular, anything with Peanut Butter like Peanut Butter M&Ms, Cherry Ripe from Australia, and Mountain Dew Soda.

What's the most requested 'no longer available' sweet you get asked for?

Well, customers have been asking for Texan for years, and Nestle finally brought it back last year for a limited retro run, it was incredibly popular and now they have stopped making it again. It was a real nostalgia trip. People do ask for Spangles as well but I think secretly they know they were actually horrible.

Your personal confectionary favourites?

I still love to try all the new products. Current personal faves are Kit Kat White Chocolate Maple from Japan which has a lovely subtle maple taste and comes in a cute little box, and Coca Cola Blak from France, it's a coffee flavoured Coke with extra caffeine, it's like a sweet espresso and gives you a nice boost.

Any famous customers?

Plenty...but we can't reveal the secrets of the candy confessional. OK, maybe just to say that Robbie Williams is not just about eye candy...

How many sweets do you personally eat a day? What are your dental bills like?

Lots, and I have good teeth, only 1 filling in my whole life. Brushing is the key!

Can sweets still be bought in ounces or is it all metric now?

Our staff are too young to even know what ounces are. You can buy a quarter of Jelly Beans if you like, it's just going to be a quarter of a kilo.

Cybercandy interior

What do you see as the future of sweets? Can you predict us some future trends in sweet development?

There's a lot of "gross out" stuff around at the moment, we have "Barf candy" which makes a barfing noise. That's American for vomiting, you'll like that with your interest in vomiting on the tube. Sour is still really popular as well. The industry keeps saying that functional candy is going to be big (get your vits etc through candy) but I think that Brits are pretty well aware that candy should be about fun treats not about replacing staple foods. There are more and more limited editions of well known products such as Kit Kat Editions, I think we will continue to see more of that, and also with chocolate I am expecting to see more single origin chocolate. Plus more barf of course.

Cadbury's or Galaxy?

Cadburys. Cadbury is a global brand with all sorts of undreamt of varieties brought to you by Cybercandy. They have a Dairy Milk Peanut Butter in Canada, and a Premium Dark Burnt Almond, plus Cherry Ripe in Australia, Triple Decker, Peppermint Roll, Furry Friends...

White, Milk, Or Dark?

All three...

Have you ever eaten so many sweets that you vomited on the tube?

(sorry we ask everyone if they've ever been sick on the underground)

No! Candy should be enjoyed in moderation as a treat ;-) A tramp was sick on my new boots on the platform once tho....

Any funny stories about customers?

Our customers really take their candy seriously. We have some very knowledgeable customers who are really abreast of the latest confectionery developments, and we also have lots of customers every day who just keep saying "Wow!" as they see more and more fab candy. The wow factor is really nice. Some people get anxious because there is too much choice - but our lovely staff are good at diagnosing the candy you need.

The London Questions:

Favourite bar or restaurant?

Canela on Earlham St - best Portuguese custard tarts in town.

What advice would you give Ken Livingstone?

You must stop being such a shrinking violet - speak up for yourself ;-) I'm all for Ken and 100% behind him.

What London place or thing would you declare a landmark?

We've got enough landmarks already. Maybe we should rent them out to other cities who are not so lucky.

The world is ending in 24 hours. How would you spend your last day in London?

Once John Wesley was asked by a friend, "Supposing, Mr. Wesley, you knew that this was to be your last night on the earth, how would you spend it?” “Well, at four o’clock I would have some tea,” he replied, “and at six o’clock I would visit Mrs. Brown in the hospital. Then at seven-thirty I would conduct mid-week service at the chapel. At nine-ten I would have my supper; at ten o’clock I would go to bed, and in the morning I would wake up in glory!”

Couldn't ask for more than being with my family and friends in my home town, London.

Cybercandy can be found online or you can fill your boots at their Covent Gardden store at 11 Shelton Street. Plus they've got a shop in Brighton now too at 98 Gloucester Road.

Last Updated 17 March 2006