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Ottawa's 'Hey Sugar' putting new spin on old favourites: lollipops

Midweek Mugging: With her homemade and custom candy, Debra Cowie has offerings for both kids and adults, including alcohol-infused snacks

From classics like cotton candy to more adult flavours like marguerita, an Ottawa woman is offering up handmade treats to satisfy a sweettooth of any age.

Debra Cowie started 'Hey Sugar Candy Company' one year ago last week, selling handmade lollipops in a variety of flavours under three lists: Classic, Seasonal and Boozy. 

Cowie, who is also a food photographer, said in an interview she read the cookbook 'Candy is Magic,' by Jami Curl and realized candy could serve as a "blank canvas to play on."

"I started with booze...why wouldn't you?" Cowie said with a laugh, but she also quickly started on other non-alcoholic flavours to create, like 'Macha Cocunut' or 'Cold Brew Coffee.'

Cowie didn't see anyone offering this type of product around the city and knew she "could make them pretty," so she decided to take part in some markets and eventually launch.

Since the lollipops are handmade with real ingredients, she's seen the populartity grow and has been busy in her spare time making custom orders for events like weddings or other parties.

"Doing the real fruit ones, I really like...because doing them with real roasted fruit, you're never going to get that anywhere," Cowie said, noting she uses real fruit in her strawberry, blueberry or blackberry jam flavours and in her Pinot Noir on the alcohol-infused side.

"You can tell that it's not just strawberry flavouring from somewhere that's in there."

One year in, cotton candy is the most popular on the kids side while her marguerita one seems to be a hit with adults.

The flavours she is most proud of is her 'Macha Coconut' and 'Marguerita,' which both took a long time to get to her satisfaction and included experimenting with macha for the former and sea salt for the latter.

The process consists of syrup, water and sugar along with the different ingredients for each flavour cooked to 315 degrees before poured into custom moulds and handfinished. 

"You can only make a batch of about 75 at a time because it cools down and seizes up and won't pour anymore," Cowie explained. 

While keeping her busy, she doesn't plan on expanding her business further at this point, as the process is somewhat labour intensive in short spurts and would require a lot of time.

"This is a side to my other life and it's a lot of fun owning a candy company," Cowie said. "But it doesn't need to be huge."

Those interested in her homemade offerings can head to her Instagram page, where she takes the majority of her custom orders through direct messaging. 

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