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This Australian candy shop has mesmerized the internet

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Every now and then, it is worth listening to your kids. That's what David King learned during the pandemic. What brought him to such a drastic measure?

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Well, let's go back 20 years to when King was working as a lawyer looking for something else in life, and he found some inspiration.

DAVID KING: I can't say I'd always had a passion for sugar or I'd always had a passion for confectionery. It was just a - it seemed like such a wonderful process.

KELLY: King fell in love with making candy, opened a store named Sticky. It's in the Rocks neighborhood of Sydney. There, he and his team make hard candies.

D KING: It starts as this large quantity of molten sugar. We cool it and add colors. It bubbles. We then sculpt it quite large. We build one giant cylindrical what we would call a lolly but you guys would call a candy.

CHANG: They then stretch out that giant cylinder until it's really skinny and it hardens, and then they cut it to reveal all kinds of intricate designs from Pokemon to koalas, even ones with words in them.

KELLY: The business was doing well until - boom - COVID hit. In March of 2020, there were no customers. Sticky was about to shut down.

D KING: We just thought, we've got a small social media following. Perhaps we can leverage some of that into - maybe we didn't even think in these words. We just thought, why don't we try livestreaming?

CHANG: So they gave it a try, streaming the candy-making process. The first one had about 30 viewers, and as they kept posting, it grew to a couple thousand viewers.

KELLY: King's daughter Annabelle was in her last year of high school at the time. She wanted to take it a step further.

ANNABELLE KING: While the livestreams are great, not everyone has an hour every day to watch one.

KELLY: So she pestered her dad to let her make a TikTok for Sticky.

D KING: Annabelle had to convince me because I honestly didn't even know what TikTok was.

CHANG: The TikToks were a hit. Two years later, they have 6 million followers.

D KING: The support and love that gets shown to us from all over the world is just extraordinary.

CHANG: Revenue has tripled since Annabelle's work launched.

KELLY: And it changed her life trajectory.

A KING: I would never have made a decision to go into marketing and media if it hadn't been for the work I was already doing. It was not something that would have ever occurred to me to do.

KELLY: And for David, the best part is connecting with viewers from all over the world.

D KING: People reach out all the time and tell me and us that we've saved their lives in a dark, dark time. What people have given back to us and what we've given to them has made for really, really interesting and quite powerful community.

CHANG: The candy shop is bustling again. And as for father and daughter...

A KING: There's something really lovely about getting to stand next to your dad and make lollies for days. It's really sweet.

D KING: In the end, I don't care if you buy lollies or not. Why not hang out with us for a little while?

CHANG: David and Annabelle King, candy and video makers from Sydney, Australia.

(SOUNDBITE OF KAYTRANADA'S "TRACK UNO") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Mia Venkat
Justine Kenin
Justine Kenin is an editor on All Things Considered. She joined NPR in 1999 as an intern. Nothing makes her happier than getting a book in the right reader's hands – most especially her own.