Co-owner of Aunt Sandras Candy Factory in Castlereagh Road in East Belfast, David went to school in nearby Templemore Avenue and recalls a sweet factory there, where on winter mornings you could smell the brandy balls being made. This was the factory where my Uncle Dunny, (Willie Dunne) started off. Following an accident (he lost three fingers in a machine for making rock), for which he got compensation, he started his own little shop and candy factory on the Albertbridge Road in the early 1950s.
Like her sisters Aunt Sandra worked in the Belfast Ropeworks but the chance to work with Dunny in his little shop and sweet factory was too good too miss. The young David would go to Dunnys as a child with his mother every Saturday morning and would be the only one allowed to go inside the factory to watch Dunny turning the machine by hand and see the sweets coming out.
All candy and chocolates are made by hand. A viewing window into the small quaint factory allows visitors to enjoy tastes and smells of old-time candy-making at its best. Visitors come from all over to the Candy factory and it has become a popular tourist attraction in East Belfast.
Some of the treats on offer include Yellow Man, Raspberry Ruffles, Macaroons, Belfast Fudge and Brandy Drops.
Aunt Sandra started making sweeties, lollies and all manner of choccie delights in this east Belfast emporium way back in 1953. Today her nephews David and Jim Moore continue the tradition and demonstrate their craft as children and adults look on with wide-eyed admiration.
Shamrock lollies and leprechaun’s gold are just some of the sticky souvenirs that may prove too tempting to last the journey home. And a new ice cream parlour and coffee shop means you can linger longer and enjoy some in situ sugary delights.
Keeping an eye on tradition
Many years later, when David and his brother needed a hand at their grocery business on the Castlereagh Road, Aunt Sandra helped on the till and stacking shelves. But so many people asked about the sweets that they eventually asked her to make them instead. We cleared a space in the back of the shop for her to make sweets once a week, much to Dunnys delight, David says. He would come and sit on a stool and watch her, keeping an eye on tradition. They were really passing on their knowledge.
Aunt Sandras opens
It got so busy more people were asking for sweets than eggs. So they bought the current premises in Castlereagh Road in 1984 as a sweet factory. David worked with Sandra, learning her recipes and researching others at the library. When Aunt Sandra retired in the 1990s, David took over.
Blue Peter badge
Aunt Sandras had a high profile visit in 2009 when a Blue Peter team arrived to film David and his team making chocolate with honeycomb, after a young viewer asked about the origins of honeycomb. 50 years after first watching the programme, David finally got his Blue Peter badge!