The Candy Takes Marshmallows Gourmet

Christine Pirrone makes marshmallows in an explosion of flavors out of a rented kitchen in the Asian Cultural Center.


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Photo by Lance Yamamoto

Christine Pirrone makes marshmallows — delicious, handmade, small-batch, locally sourced marshmallows in an explosion of flavors, among them Mexican chocolate, raspberry, matcha, chai, chicory coffee, ginger, cinnamon, hibiscus orange, and vanilla bean. Dubbed “The Candy,” Pirrone’s 3-year-old venture is based out of a rented kitchen in the Asian Cultural Center, in the heart of Oakland’s Chinatown.

The main principles behind The Candy are to “keep it local and [the] footprint small.” Pirrone, an Art Institute of Chicago graduate who studied painting and textile arts, is interested in the process of making, not in selling or marketing or expanding her business to the point where she is no longer creating the product. After art school, the Modesto native attended culinary school in San Francisco and worked in restaurants as a pastry chef. She started making candy gifts for friends, which led to marshmallow making and the realization that there was a demand for gourmet marshmallows in interesting flavors.

She sources her ingredients from local purveyors where possible, such as chai masala from the Oakland Spice Shop. Even the gelatin (the magic substance that gives marshmallows its pillow-like consistency) is carefully chosen. Pirrone uses only kosher gelatin, which is made from grass-fed beef hide. She also makes her own sugar (and salt) syrups and eschews corn syrup altogether.

In the future, Pirrone hopes to add a candy subscription service to her offerings, as a means to foster her curiosity and creativity. “Maybe an assortment of caramels one month and toffees the next. I like to explore new things but enjoy the process of making candy most of all.”

Holiday season is The Candy’s busy season, so look for the annual assortment of nine colorful flavors to dunk in your hot chocolate, melt on a graham cracker, or just eat by themselves.

The Candy can be found locally at the Oakland Spice Shop and Market Hall, through the Good Eggs organic grocery-delivery service, and online at ItsTheCandy.com. The Candy’s vanilla bean marshmallows are also included in Little Belgians’ Speculoos S’mores kits.

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