A tiny battle rages in Belgium, involving several vendors, a street brawl, a bucket of water, and legal action, all over one of the country’s lesser-known candies: cuberdons.
These conical sweets are made from sugar, raspberry flavoring, gelatin, and gum arabic, with a candy shell on the outside and thick, gooey syrup on the inside. The traditional way to eat one is to bite the top off and suck the sticky syrup out before it drips on your clothes. Some claim that the candy was invented by a clergyman (its other name, bonnet de cure, or “priest’s hat,” reflects this), while the more common belief is that a pharmacist created them by accident while trying to improve the shelf life of his cough syrup.
Due to cuberdons’ resemblance to a certain facial feature, they’re also known as neuzekes, or “small noses” in Flemish. It’s only fitting, then, that the bitter vendor disputes surrounding the sweet have become known as the “War of the Noses.” The rivalry began in 2011 in Ghent’s Groentenmarkt, when vendor Sonny Breine opened a stall outside Carl Demeestere’s store. Demeestere retaliated by opening his own stall right next to his competitor. After each vendor displayed signs criticizing the other’s product, tensions escalated into screaming matches and a fist fight that resulted in a two-week confiscation of both their licenses in 2014.
For several years, it seemed the two had reached a truce. Perhaps it was the calm that allowed Demeestere to focus on expanding his offerings. He now makes a variety of colored cuberdons for events like football matches (using blackberries to create the Ghent team’s blue) and introduced vegetable-flavored cuberdons.
Breine recently stopped operating his stall, but that doesn’t mean the battle is over. In 2017, the vendor who took over his cart rekindled the rivalry by throwing a bucket of water over Demeestere’s cart.
Need to Know
If you want to avoid any drama at the market, you can also get cuberdons at candy chains like Leonidas.