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Food:Why Cambridge Craft Lollies are hot stuff

Made the Mexican way - using whole fruits, herbs and spices, minimal sugar and no nasties - Cambridge Craft Lollies are swiftly becoming known for their one-of-a-kind flavours, as creator Ulla Marshall tells Alice Ryan

"My ethos is minimum ingredients, massive flavour. My lollies are different from most because I’m hugely influenced by the Mexican making process, using whole fruit, some spices or herbs to enhance the fruit flavour, and minimal sugar. The sugar is used to make the fruit centre stage, not just as a sweetener.

"My flavour inspiration comes from research: I love researching recipes and trying out new infusions. The current best-sellers are strawberry lemonade and raspberry mango. But also the watermelon cucumber is gaining popularity. The horchata ice lolly is one of my faves; it’s coconut based - all our lollies are vegan. Horchata is a Mexican rice and cinnamon drink and the lolly is amazing: delicate, light and so refreshing.

"The lolly idea came about five years ago when I was living in Brighton with my partner and children. A black British Londoner who lived in Brighton for more than 20 years, originally I wanted to sell ice lollies to people coming out of clubs on Brighton beach. . . But that was a fantasy!

"I wanted to launch a lolly business because I had huge food truck envy. When they exploded I wanted to be a part of that whole food scene. My first attempt was ice cream sandwiches and ice lollies, which I sold at food festivals at weekends, but trying to combine it with teaching was madness. My professional background is in education, as a behaviour and mental health specialist teacher working with school refusers and young people with social and emotional issues.

"It was only when we decided to relocate to Cambridge, my partner's birthplace, that I started thinking maybe I could actually do this. When we moved, I decided it’s time to follow that dream and commit to it full time, and besides I can always tutor during the quiet times.

"One of the things that made me realise Cambridge was ready for this type of lolly was the menu at Jack's Gelato - such amazing creative flavours. When I saw that, I knew people here wouldn’t be fazed by hibiscus raspberry or peach jalapeño.

"We moved in 2019, ordered the cargo bike at the start of 2020. . . And then the pandemic kicked off. That didn’t hold the business back, though: because the streets were so empty when the bike first went out, we were really visible. The one good thing about the pandemic is that people were really able to see us; more importantly, local people. The people of Cambridge have been amazing.

"This summer the lollies will be out on the trike on good weather days; it visits all the city’s green spaces. Also they have been taken by @pimmspunt and @lewisandsons - you can find them both on Instagram. We also do individual orders.

"Because of the pandemic and the fact that we are so brand new, Cambridge Craft Lollies is still growing. This summer will be good but next year we will be epic!

"The reward comes from the satisfaction of knowing I’m making someone happy or giving someone a new taste experience. When they choose to share that on Instagram or message me or tell my partner, who rides the bike, it makes my day; gives me goosebumps."

For more information, including this week’s menu and trike destinations, see @cambridge_craft_lollies on Instagram.

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