When I was a kid, the words “a stick of rock” seen in a British school-story was one of the many fascinating things that may have been instrumental in building up my long-running infatuation with all things British (and, by extension, many things from the British Commonwealth [Australia and Canada, in particular]). At first, I assumed that a stick of rock was rock candy, a very basic confection made by dipping a string or a wooden skewer into a supersaturated sugar syrup. Here, sugar crystals are formed as the liquid in the syrup evaporates and dries. The resulting sweet is then used to sweeten tea (literally, a sugar stirrer) or as an ingredient in many Chinese braises and soups.
Rock – better known as Blackpool rock – is a totally different thing all together.
Rock is made with a mixture of glucose and granulated sugar boiled together to make a malleable paste. Coloring agents are added during the hard-crack stage of production and carefully measured amounts of flavoring are added as the confection is pulled and kneaded numerous times before it’s formed into varicolored sticks not unlike Yuletide candy canes. These are then sold as thick or thin sticks (hence the “stick of rock”) or, as above at Made in Candy, chopped up into tiny pieces and packed in assortment bags or jars.
A recent addition to the Filipino mall scene, Made in Candy is a Singaporean franchise where the candy is always made fresh on the premises, giving passers-by a dual treat of eating hand-pulled sweets while watching the staff actually make those aforementioned sweets. Throw in the fact that the air within a five-foot radius of the shops smells deliciously irresistible, and you can pretty much start pulling in regulars.
The smallest assortment shown above is P 50.00 and is chock-filled with a whole lot of interesting flavors. Stand-outs on my palate include:
- Grapefruit These are pink and white sweeties with a chubby pig’s face on the surface; quite true-to-flavor, tangy and mildly sweet, refreshing, even.
- Lychee This is a bright pink rock with the image of a Cosmopolitan cocktail on its surface and the lychee taste really pops.
- Any of the three citrus slice flavors Lemon, lime, and orange – yum.
- Watermelon You can’t miss this one: it looks like a watermelon slice and has a more natural taste than most artificially-flavored watermelon sweets.
As I write this blog post, the department’s communal jar of rock is just an arm’s length away. They’re actually quite a bit better than coffee for a quick afternoon pick-me-up. I just hope neither my boss nor our artist has chomped down all the grapefruit piggies…