A Local Kid up to New Tricks: Cricket’s Candy Creations

It took me way too long to catch up with Tribecan Cricket Azima, whose pandemic-born experiential play space, Cricket’s Candy Creations, is now installed for the long-term at 200 Hudson, just north of Vestry.

This is her first brick-and-mortar, but certainly not her first time teaching kids the joy of cooking: For years (since 1999) she had The Creative Kitchen, which taught kids how to cook with whole foods in classes at Whole Foods and Manhattan Youth and at dozens of Kids Food Festivals that she founded and hosted around the country, sometimes partnering with the James Beard Foundation.

“I was a whole grain and fruit and vegetable pusher, all about balanced eating,” Cricket said when we met at her candy extravaganza of a space. “But during the pandemic it was not easy to get families to go online after school for a cooking class with a brown rice salad. And I didn’t blame them.”

So she decided to make it all about fun. Her recipes include edible slime and candy sushi and lickable finger paint.

“The kids just needed a little joy. It was the fun stuff that made Zoom worth it.”

Cricket, who lives with her teenage son on Worth, said she has two speeds: on and off. So in May 2021 as she started to think about this plan, she took her experience with pop-ups to a new level. The place is tricked out with everything candy — it’s really a Willy Wonka sort of situation. There’s a “chocolate chamber” where kids make things like chocolate tacos; a pinata passage where Cricket designed a mechanism that allows candy to fall from the ceiling; a cinema with a candy kaleidoscope video that opens the show. She’s found dozens of way to decorate with a candy touch — the globe lights are wrapped with cellophane like hard candies; the ropes between spaces are stringed Froot Loops; even the cabinets are covered with candy wallpaper.

It’s an experiential space that can be booked by the hour with tickets; there are classes, and corporate events, and a candy shop with candy-making kids to go. Of course there’s candy camp. And it was all featured on the Today Show in March.

Cricket hasn’t forgotten her roots: she found nothing more satisfying than working with kids on healthy eating. “I miss changing lives.” But in the meantime, there are some not-so-serious upsides to the sugar business.

Birthday parties are phenomenal — I don’t know if it can get more fun. Seeing how much joy this brings kids makes it all worthwhile.

Cricket’s Candy Creations
200 Hudson | Vestry & Canal
Closed Monday & Tuesday