Family of traditional candy-makers opens shop in Centro

A new candy shop carries on a family tradition in the Centro. Photo: Courtesy
A new candy shop carries on a family tradition in the Centro. Photo: Courtesy

Mérida, Yucatán — After four generations, a family of candy-makers has its first store in the Centro Histórico.

With a wide variety of Yucatecan sweets, Dulces Tradiciones Mina Kim became an unexpected Noche Blanca attraction, tempting passers-by on a busy stretch of Calle 60 between 59 and 61, just half a block from the Plaza Grande, where two concerts were washed out.

The shop is in a former currency-exchange storefront, near the entrance to the Piedra de Agua hotel.

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“Congratulations, you have sweetened la Noche Blanca!” exclaimed one of Mina Kim’s first customers who was quoted in Diario de Yucatán.

Their 30-plus styles of colorful, handmade candies — today, we would call them artisanal — have been available for years at fairs, and at a stall in the Fiesta Americana. A ribbon-cutting at the tiny shop’s entryway was the beginning of a new chapter for Mina Kim.

Liliana Gutiérrez May continues to honor Mina Kim, her grandmother, through her traditional sweets. Photo: Seccion Amarilla

The owner of the business, Liliana Gutiérrez May, said that the candies are a legacy of her great-grandmother, Lolita Yu, and her grandmother, Lupita Kim Yu. Now Liliana, her brother Alan and her mother, Lizbeth, carry on the tradition.

The shop promises everything is made by their own hands, using premium ingredients, based on family recipes.

Mina Kim’s confections have been sold at fairs, but now are in their own shop in the Centro. Photo: Facebook

They are a small company, but 100 percent Yucatecan, and after four years of business they are made up of six workers.

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On their Saturday inauguration day, a steady stream of customers popped in. The clientele was a mix of locals and tourists, possibly looking for Noche Blanca diversions.

Customers can buy individual candies or gift baskets suitable for baptisms, weddings, birthdays or quinceañeras.

These confections are more than a business, says Liliana. They are a tribute to the flavors of yesteryear.

A lot of work goes into these sweets, particularly the fruit marzipans, which are molded into realistic shapes to resemble tiny jicama, sugar-apples or mamey.

Another favorite is the caballero pobre, a sweet made of bread soaked in sugar syrup with cinnamon and almond. They are also known for their meringues, which are hard on the outside but soft on the inside, with a hint of lemon zest.

The family is rescuing a craft that has been in danger of disappearing. Most customers have grown up with cheap, factory-made commercial candies. But they learn the difference quickly.

“When we started at the market, people asked us why they were so expensive,” says Liliana. “Now when they see us they buy without asking because we guarantee homemade flavor.”

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