Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is an inaccurate representation of the candy industry. Real-life sweets manufacturers tend to be much less whimsical (and less hostile toward children). Lofty Pursuits may not have a chocolate river or Oompa Loompas on the payroll, but they have found a way to channel Willy Wonka with their off-the-wall flavors and passion for candy.
WIRED paid a visit to the shop in Tallahassee, Florida, to make the video below. It follows candy maker Greg Cohen and his staff as they turn sugar and flavorings into a multi-course meal of hard candies. Instead of conventional confectionary flavors, the menu consists of candies that taste like sweet corn, apple cider, ham, and blueberry pie.
The sugar-based dinner is inspired by a fictional treat whipped up by Willy Wonka. In the book and movie adaptations, the chocolatier is working on a single piece of gum that fits all the flavors of a three-course feast. Violet Beauregarde tries it before it's ready and swells into a giant blueberry when she reaches the final course: blueberry pie.
Lofty Pursuits captures the spirit of the candy without the unwanted consequences. The process used to make it isn't magic, but seeing the sugary substance stretched and shaped does have a mesmerizing effect. There's also a touch of Wonka-esque ingenuity in the ingredients. To recreate the carbonation of apple cider, candy makers use baking soda, and they developed a sweet and smoky flavor profile for their vegan “ham” candy. Watch the full video above for a closer look behind the candy counter.