“In the afternoon, after school, kids are known to press their noses up against the windows,” Sabine Marquardt tells me. And I can understand why when I look at the lovingly decorated shop windows, packed full of colourful, delicious sweets. Join me on a whistle-stop tour of this treasure trove of colourful sweets in Böttcherstrasse.
Sabine Marquardt and her employees at Bremer Bonbon Manufaktur create sweets of all shapes and sizes, from huge lollies dangling from the ceiling, to tiny sweets that fit into test tubes. And the variety of flavours also offers everything your heart could desire, such as liquorice, sweet, sour, coffee, strawberry, caramel, and even something called damenschrei, or ‘lady’s shout’. I didn’t come across that flavour on my visit to the shop, but then it’s impossible to take in all the flavours considering how many there are. I think I’ll have to give that one a try the next time I pop into Böttcherstrasse.
But back to my visit. What makes Bremer Bonbon Manufaktur so special is that visitors, in this case including me, can watch the sweet makers at work. And that’s where I am now, standing right by a large brass pan, where the glucose is already boiling and reducing down on the stove until it reaches 150 degrees. Then the sugary mass is poured on to the large marble worktop. It’s definitely ‘don’t touch!’ now as the mixture is still bubbling away after it has been poured.
And now speed is of the essence: before the batch cools down, colours and flavours are added and it’s split into three portions, which will create the three stripes in the sweets. The main batch is stretched over a big hook on the wall until it has the right consistency. Then the three parts are added together and the big batch is gradually stretched into long strips. This requires teamwork: “It’s best done by two people. We have to constantly watch out to make sure that the batch doesn’t go cold,” Ms Marquardt explains. So one of them forms the batch into long strips and the other cuts the sweets into the familiar shape using a large press. Then the sweets only need to cool down before they are transferred into jars. Visitors not only get to watch how the sweets are made, they can also try one while they are still warm. And I have to say, they are even more yummy than the sweets in the jar.
Ms Marquardt and her three employees go the extra mile to fulfil even the most unusual customer requests. Thanks to its location – in the middle of Bremen’s city centre in the Böttcherstrasse, right behind the Sieben Faulen fountain – many tourists pass the shop and are drawn in by the lovely smells. The sweets are also popular with locals as a little present from Bremen. The logo tells you all need to know: the reference to the city through the name and the Bremen Town Musicians, the artisan way the sweets are made, and the yummy sweets themselves, of course.
Ms Marquardt picked up the idea in Sweden. She wanted to make red and white polkagris sweets, which are popular in Sweden, in Germany too. So she went to Scandinavia to learn the art of making them, brought an old sweet press back to Bremen and started trying out recipes. The result was more and more flavours, and her staff are still experimenting to this day.
If you fancy having a look (and taste) for yourself, the shop is open from Monday to Saturday between 11am and 6pm, and from April to December also on Sundays between noon and 5pm. Anyone who has the opportunity should try a warm sweet – I can highly recommend it.