The whole story
Almuegaardens sweet factory was established back in the 20th century by the, then, young Michael Christensen and his wife Pia.
At that time, Pia ran a small sweet shop in Vordingborg where she aimed to offer a niche sweet product together with giving customers a unique experience. In tune with this, Michael came up with the idea of including a small sweet production area so that customers could experience the manufacturing process live in the shop. At the time, there was only one other place doing this in Denmark.
By making sweets from the back room of Pia’s shop, Michael began to gather the craftsmanship necessary for the production of hand-made boiled sweets. Many free samples were given to customers, so that already in this development phase, there existed a continuous feedback to assist in getting colour and flavour combinations just right. Modern variations of traditional boiled sweets were produced, together with several long forgotten classics from when Grandpa was young which the older generation of customers often requested.
Not long after the first sweets were produced in the little back room workshop, the word and fragrance of sweets spread to the streets of Vordingborg, creating a success which quickly made the acquisition of a larger production facility a necessity for the little sweet shop.
This was not as easy as it sounded, because Michael wanted to give his sweets soul, something which required production in the right historical environment. After much searching, Michael and Pia fell for the idyllic red and white timbered farm ‘Almuegaarden’ situated in the small village of Lov, near Næstved, on south Zealand. The little sweet factory had found its new home.
When the new facilities were ready, there only remained acquiring the old-fashioned equipment to produce sweets in their original form. Michael travelled all over Europe searching for an original hand driven sweet rolling mill. Such a machine would be able to produce all the classical types of boiled sweet, even the renowned ‘King of Denmark’ with its crown shaped form.
Other machines were not required as the sweets were to be produced exclusively with good old-fashioned handcraft!
Gradually, as production got underway and sales increased in Pia’s sweet shop, enquiries came in from other shops in the town that had interest in selling Michael’s products. This was the beginning of Almuegaarden’s engross business.
To further increase sales and advertise the little sweet factory, Michael had the idea of making a mobile sweet workshop that could tour the whole of Denmark, and create activity in various street markets. This was a great success.
In 1998, Almuegaarden became known nationwide with the introduction of sugar-free sweets that, both in appearance and taste, were the same as traditional sweets. This news was transmitted nationally via TV and written media, and soon, one could find Almuegaarden’s sugar-free sweets on chemist’s shelves all over the country.
An important milestone was reached when, in 2001, and with the background of Almuegaarden’s special history and feel for quality and innovation, an offer was made to take over the old sweet workshop in Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen. The offer was accepted, naturally, as it was a true seal of approval of our products. Over time, Almuegaarden’s brand has become associated with the sweet workshop and sales outlet in Tivoli Gardens, something by which many people recognise and remember us.
Almuegaarden’s most important milestone was reached in the celebratory year of Hans Christian Andersen in 2004, when, after many years of fruitless experimentation, Michael successfully developed a technique to produce sweets containing beautiful and lifelike motifs within the sweet. Appropriately, the very first motif sweets were of the Danish flag and a silhouette of H C Andersen, both of which were a great success.
Over the years, many new motifs have been introduced, so that now, there are sweets for just about every occasion. The introduction of motif sweets has revolutionised the market; not only do the sweets taste good, but they can be used as gifts as well, which has led to outlets such as garden centres and gift shops, who normally wouldn’t sell confectionery, now stocking our sweets.
The old farmhouse Almuegaarden still provides the framework for the whole business, which with help from three generations of family has developed into one of the world’s most renowned manufacturers of hand-made quality confectionery with export to the whole of Scandinavia and a growing market in the rest of Europe. Almuegaarden is restrained solely by its production ethics, in that we never compromise on quality or our craftsmanship for the sake of industrialising our production.
At Almuegaarden, it’s just like the good old days…