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The Sweet Life of Cork!

Who doesn’t love to indulge on something sweet every now and again? Ireland is full of fabulous food companies who are providing delicious and unique sweet treats to satisfy the nation’s sweet tooth, so this month, I reached out to some of these companies to find out more. 


Tony Linehan: Shandon Sweets

Shandon Sweets is a traditional Irish and multi-winning sweet factory and shop located in the famous Shandon Quarter of Cork City. Their sweets are handmade using traditional methods and are made using original machinery which date back to the early 1900s. Nothing much has changed over the years and to this day everything is still handmade. Tony Linehan is now the third generation, taking over from his father who retired from the business last year. 


The history of the company:

The sweets have been made at this site by the Linehan family since 1929. ‘The business was started by my grandfather in 1929. He met a Scottish man who had come to Cork to make sweets for Musgraves (who were located in a premises in the Coal Quay at the time). The process was so interesting to him that he asked this man to show him how to make sweets and that is where it began’. 

According to Tony, the way in which Shandon Sweets does business has changed completely over the years. When I started working with my dad, most of our business was wholesale whereas now, we are closer to our customers and that’s great’.


Successes achieved by the company:

The past eighteen months have changed how many businesses operate and Shandon Sweets is no exception. They had to adapt to the new world in which we continue to live, and in doing so they launched their first online store which has been a great success. ‘I never thought I would see the day where we would be able to post packages with our sweets around the country, and it has proved very popular. Only last week we posted a package over to Italy as well, so there is a real interest from people who once visited us and want to still try our sweets’. 

Two years ago, Shandon Sweets had a fire in their factory which nearly destroyed the business Tony explained. He told me, ‘I am proud to say one of our biggest achievements was recovering after this fire and getting things back up and running. We are very proud to have such loyal customers who welcomed us back and continue to buy our products’.


Their best-selling products:

According to Tony, their traditional clove rock and honeycomb are always very popular and never stay on the shelf for very long. However, interestingly he said that their most popular product is something called ‘Brus’, a sweet which is the by-product from all the sweets they make. ‘It’s a combination of other sweets and the ones that essentially don’t make the cut to be in the larger packs. Whenever we advertise it, it would fly out the door and be gone within minutes – it’s mad really when you think about it’. They rarely have it in stock though because there is so little by-product most of the time! This Tony explained ‘is good news for us, but bad for people who want our ‘Brus’, which to the best of my knowledge you can’t get anywhere else’.


Their hopes for the future:

Tony’s hopes for the future are that they will be able to continue to grow and survive in this ever changing and challenging environment. But most importantly, he hopes that they ‘can continue to make high quality handmade products for the people of Cork and beyond for a long time to come’. 

You can check out their website here and you can follow them on social media by clicking on the following link Facebook


Justice Doyle: Hoban’s Treats

If you are a coeliac or eat gluten free, don’t worry, Hoban’s Treats has got you covered for all your sweet treat needs! Hoban’s Treats was set up by Justice Doyle and they supply a wide range of gluten free mini rolls, torte cakes, mini treats and much more. 


The history of the company:

According to Justice, the best way to describe the motivation for her company is to describe it being founded ‘from a passion for food and a frustration of gluten free desserts!’. Food is one of Justice’s passions and she loves ‘trying out new dessert flavours in particular’. 

‘I got the news I was coeliac almost 5 years ago, (the week before I travelled to Paris!) and since then, I just find desserts are limited for people who have gluten free diets’. What’s important for Justice is that even though the desserts are gluten free, there is no compromise in taste! ‘For anyone who is not on a gluten free diet… don’t worry, they still taste good!’. 


Successes achieved by the company:

Since day one, the response has been amazing Justice explained. ‘It has been very well received. I have been very lucky in the pandemic that hasn’t been kind to many other businesses. My stockists and customers have been so supportive’.  For Justice, ‘every time I walk into a stockist and see Hoban’s Treats on the menu is a great feeling!’, and the success is when she gets to see her gluten free customers happy, and ‘seeing the smile and joy on a customer’s face that eats a gluten free diet!’ 

Since the beginning, Justice has been able to grow her business quite quickly. She explained that they started off supplying only one or two places and she was hoping to grow slowly. Now they are supplying over ten coffee and foodie spots, the markets, and home deliveries, and this was all done in a short space of time. ‘This has been a big success in my eyes’. Justice was also delighted when Hoban’s Treats became part of the NeighbourFood in Ballincollig, Carrigaline, Mallow and Cuskinny. ‘This is a great way for locals to try some of the great food and drink Cork producers have to offer!’. 


Their best-selling products: 

According to Justice, the different flavour mini rolls are going down great. She explained that ‘there’s a few different flavours to choose from, and customers are experimenting each time they pick up some which is great! I’ll be constantly adding new flavours to these’. Justice also explained that recently she has started doing Torte cakes which have started getting popular for events and parties. 


Their hopes for the future:

Justice is excited for the future and is hoping that ‘maybe someday we might have a Hoban’s Treat shop. We will see what happens!’

You can follow them on social media by clicking on the following links Instagram and Facebook


Sarah Cremin: Good Fortune Cookies

Good Fortune Cookies is a brand-new cookie company set up by Ballymaloe Graduate Sarah Cremin, who came up with the idea for her business after she completed her time at the cookery school in December. She operates a delivery service where she drops off freshly baked, oven warm, thick double chocolate, caramel, hazelnut, peanut, and honeycomb cookies by the boxful to doorsteps all over Cork.


The history of the company:

Sarah was lucky enough to fulfil her dream of completing the 12-week course in Ballymaloe Cookery School last year, and it was the lockdown at the time that gave her the inspiration for her company. The course finished up in December and we were facing another lockdown, so I made loads of edible gifts for friends and family over the following few weeks. I started adding in little notes saying “hang in there” or “can’t wait to see you soon” which gave me the idea that I could do this as a business, delicious treats with thoughtful messages. I wanted to take the hassle out of gifting – we’ll bake the cookies, package them up nicely, write the card and deliver them to the door’. 


The growth of the company:

Sarah explained that as her company is very new, she sees everyday as a ‘school day’. But to her, she finds it exciting to see her business grow and develop in different ways. She explained that one of the biggest growth areas in her business has been her ordering system. ‘Firstly, our ordering from the very first day was done via Instagram message – this was great in some ways, but so stressful in others, as I was constantly worried that I’d miss a message. By far one of the best decisions was to launch a website for ordering – this made everything more seamless and gave me so much more time for recipe testing and baking. No more manually entering our orders into spreadsheets!’

Another area of development that Sarah has worked on has been her branding. ‘We started off with a logo made by a work colleague and cards that I made myself online and that was just what we needed to get the business going. The branding was always an area that I wanted to improve on, but this is not my area of expertise. I contacted an agency in Cork called Chapter and worked with Deirdre, Joanna and Áine to create a new brand that I love and am proud of’.


Successes achieved by the company:

For Sarah, success to her is when someone sends her cookies as a gift to someone, in turn they then order them for someone else. ‘I get excited about it every single time! We’ve had loads of orders from the US, UK & Australia – I love that with the cookies and little messages, we can connect people and show that small gestures can make someone’s day’. Sarah is also really proud that she has got her products stocked in a few shops ‘most notably McCarthy’s Family Butchers in Bishopstown – which is local to me and where we get our lovely free-range eggs’.


Their best-selling products:

The bestselling products according to Sarah are the Classic Boxes, which are boxes of 6 double chocolate and sea salt cookies.People always say ‘’oh wow, the salt is unreal – I didn’t expect to like it but it’s so good’’.  They also have a new treat box called the Roisin box which has a selection of handmade desserts, and according to Sarah, these are also becoming very popular! Sarah has loads of ideas for new products that she is hoping to launch very soon. ‘I’d love to be a household name in the gifting market in the future’. Watch this space!


You can check out her website here and you can follow her on social media by clicking on the following links Instagram and Facebook


I have only highlighted just some of the amazing companies offering sweet treats we have here in Ireland, and there are many others out there who are satisfying the nation’s sweet tooth. Remember these companies are serving us with fabulous treats, so no matter where you are, have a look around to support one local to you. I guarantee they won’t be far away!

By Emma Wilkinson  


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