Enraptured by the caramels in the France Box? So are we! 70 years after its founding on the western coast of France, Maison d’Armorine is one of the best-loved confectionery companies in the country. Here, we speak to the team at Maison d’Armorine about the company’s beginnings after WWII as a seaside treat and a curious lollipop called the niniche.
Wow, that’s incredible! It certainly sounds like Maison d’Armorine was a homemade operation.
Yes, it certainly was! And Maison d’Armorine has always specialized in caramel, specifically salted butter caramel because of the local butter that a farmer from Quiberon would make. One of our most popular products was actually a loliipop called the niniche. At the time, it was actually quite simple to make: all you needed to do was take some caramel in your hands, roll it into a long cylinder, add a little stick and a little paper, and voilà! You have a caramel lollipop.
They continued to make this by hand for a long time, but eventually, they started using a roller, which is what enables them to roll the caramel and give the shape of the niniche. It enabled the company to enter the Patrimoine Culinaire Francais, so it’s obviously a very important product for us. The recipes have been exactly the same since the beginning, but we have new flavors in addition to the original ones.
Maison d’Armorine now has a few store locations. How did the company grow over time?
It was very artisanal and manual in the beginning, but in 1949, Raymond and Ivonne bought their first boutique just above the beach. It’s where Raymond and Ivonne started to make the lollipops in front of people instead of at home, and at this point, the story of the niniche really started. Every night, they made niniches and sold them to customers when they were still warm. It’s a tradition that continues throughout July and August, and that we want to continue, because it’s important for our clientele. We have people who ate niniches in our store in the 50s, and today, they bring their grandkids and great grandkids.
Maison d’Armorine is a French institution. What do you think drove this success?
There are two things that are really key: on the one hand, raw materials, and on the other, the know-how, which is just as important as the raw materials. You can’t separate the two.
Note: This interview was translated from French.