We went to Tallahassee to see the old and new capitols, but Ruth and my favorite attraction there was Lofty Pursuits. We heard about this store with “Public Displays of Confection” in “It’s All Here“, Tallahassee‘s official guide and liked its alluring “Victorian Candy” promise. The guide reported that Lofty Pursuits used machines dating back to the 1850s and is one of the few remaining places in the U.S. making traditional 18th century candy. It noted that it offered candy making demonstrations. A few pages later it claimed that Lofty Pursuits sold the best ice cream in town, served a delicious daily brunch, and had classic toys for sale. This all sounded interesting so we went.
We both thought the ice cream was good but not exactly unique as my eyes kept wandering over to the candy making equipment. Ruth and I finally went over to meet candy maker Markee and learn about what he was doing. 19-years-old Markee was welcoming, already very experienced at making candy, and very knowledgeable. Telling us that Lofty Pursuits candy is shipped all over the world, he offered us a sample of the yellow, Victorian confections he was making. They were delicious but we bought purple and white blackberry treats to take with us because they were even more delicious!
Markee told us while he steadily worked that his candies were simple. They contain only sugar, water, and flavorings made especially for Lofty Pursuits by Edgar A. Weber & Company in the Chicago area. He confessed that pomegranate was his favorite and dill pickle was his least, although it had its fans. I asked the most popular flavor and Markee quickly said, “lime sour soda”. I looked at some of the other flavorings and was amazed by the variety–bacon, popcorn, potato, Irish cream, etc. He told us that he had already made 75 pounds of candy that day. He informed us that lemon drops were really dropped and demonstrated by releasing a batch of them on the cooling table where he was separating and sorting. He demonstrated the 475° hot table too. He told us that there were only 2 other Victorian candy makers in the U.S. but there were some in India, Japan, and China. Although we were determined to buy individual candies, he tried to interest us in other best sellers like unicorn droppings and said he was looking forward to creating scary Halloween pumpkins. Markee ended by showing me several of the more than 100 roller designs dating from the Victorian Era that he used.
The other two Victorian candy makers are in California and Indiana. Markee said that Florida was not an ideal place for making 19th century hard candy because of its humidity. He reinforced that message by showing me a silicone packet used in packaging to keep out moisture.