Growing up in a small town in England, Sarah Foy’s family didn’t have a lot of money, but one thing they could afford were visits to a local confectionary called Uncle Joe’s.
Foy and her family moved to Calgary when she was 13, and in the years that followed, she noticed that the candy experience from her childhood was absent in her new home. While there were plenty of chocolatiers throughout the city, there were very few traditional candymakers.
Foy spent years working in the food industry until injuring her back in 2019. It was during this downtime that her partner suggested pursuing her passion. “He [said], ‘You always talk about candy. You love it. Why don’t you give a candy shop a go?’”
With just a $10,000 credit card and a series of instructional articles and YouTube videos on how to make candy, Foy and her partner opened the doors of Volio’s Confections in December 2019. “It started out with a really simple lollipop,” Foy recalls. “You just boil the sugar and pour it onto a stick. And the minute I started boiling that sugar, I fell in love.”
She has since expanded her inventory to include a variety of hard candies with designs in the middle, candied nuts and other traditional sweets. While she tries to keep stock of classic flavours like peppermint and caramel, she also has a rotating selection of her own flavour concepts. Her “always and forever favourite” flavour is raspberry-black currant, but salted-watermelon-chili (inspired by a snack she was given as a kid) has been a surprising bestseller, as well.
While candy-making isn’t always easy — stretching heavy taffy over a massive wall hook at 270˚F certainly takes some practice — Foy says it’s all worthwhile when customers get to see the process. “It’s my absolute favourite thing when I can give them a piece of slightly warm candy. To see their faces light up when they try it is the best thing in the whole world,” she says.
“I had kind of a rough childhood, but when I look back on the happy memories, I have Uncle Joe’s. The idea that in 20 years some kid who comes in here right now looks back and goes, ‘You know what, I used to go to Volio’s and that was one of my happiest memories as a kid,’ that just warms my soul.”