Whenever I go abroad on a work trip, I have to bring back presents, however small for the kids. When they were tiny they used to be thrilled just to see me come back through the door, as they grew up and got more vocal, my three teenage sons made it very clear that their preferred present was chocolate or sweets. And not the rubbish you can find at the airport either (how many other homes have had the M&M tube top people littering their toy boxes?). No, they really wanted the weird and the wonderful stuff the locals eat, the more bizarre the better.
My return from trips to Japan or the Far East are always greatly anticipated because some of the whackiest confectionery comes from there, and Japan always has the added bonus of everything being wrapped beautifully. Well now I have found a shop that sells the very best weird candy from around the world right under my nose. And it's been there for years.
When I was chatting to the lovely Elinor Bashan, retail director of Change Retail (which runs The Shop At The Savoy) last week, she mentioned that she was putting together a bespoke 'Secret Covent Garden' shopping guide for one of her clients and she let slip that Cybercandy was one of the places she loved to take people to. I am ashamed to say I had never heard of it, even though it's been there for YEARS (there's one in Brighton, Birmingham and Islington too). I legged it round there and found all of my favourites stocked aplenty.
It had Pockys in all flavours (including the oddest one Mens Flavour), Hi Chus (my sons' absolute favourite sweet bar none, particularly the apple flavour), the weird Kit Kats (avoid the Cola flavour but the green tea one is spectacularly good) and the marvellous Every Burger chocolate biscuits. The Japanese are obsessed with Hello Kitty so there are a multitude of pretty pastel offerings and cute tins in this range (they have nearly 60 varieties listed) which always make nice presents for girls.
The website lists sweets by country, and the Scandinavian section looks interesting, it might have been fun to suck a Saltlakrid whilst watching The Killing. Can anyone recommend favourites from other countries?
PS, sweets are about to become big news, did we all know Hamley's is soon to open a whole floor of sweets?