Jared Gold is probably best known as a fashion designer, notably for his brand Black Chandelier.
But Gold also has been creating candy since he was about 5, when he’d make an old-school confection called vinegar taffy from a recipe his grandma kept. “We’d pull it, and I’d make it on Sunday, and we’d all burn our fingers,” he said.
The taffy was “slightly sour and slightly funky,” he said, with a consistency that would melt away while also just about tear your teeth out.
He learned about candy-making from his dad, and would help his mom make toffee at Christmastime. “I was always obsessed,” Gold said.
The candy Gold makes today is more sophisticated and multifaceted than vinegar taffy. Take, for example, his Peanut Butter Crunch Bark — a vegan recipe that fills your mouth with the goodness of deep-roasted peanut butter crunch candy and soft dark chocolate. Or the Umami Caramel, which is a buttery, decadent bite with fascinating savory notes from brewed tamari and Marmite (the British yeast extract) that’s finished with oakwood-smoked Maldon salt.
All of the recipes were developed and refined over the years by Gold, and each piece of candy commands and demands attention. You simply must give each bite your full focus as you slowly chew and swallow, experiencing all of the different textures and flavors. And that’s exactly what Gold said he was going for when he created this line of candy, called the Candy Sutra.
‘There’s something about candy’
The Candy Sutra is the first in Gold’s Sutras of Delight, a manifesto on the power of pleasure and play, and the magic in the dance of delight. So far, Gold has explored candy and toys as Sutras of Delight, which he means to publish as a book.
“There’s something about candy,” Gold said. “It entitles you to be totally crazy. It wants you to be it.” He said the “whole point” of the Candy Sutra is it has “this kind of meditative quality. It can change your mind. It can do all kinds of incredibly powerful things, candy can.”
Included with each box of candy is a tiny zine, which walks the seeker through a series of optional meditations one can experience as they taste and consume the candy.
The first meditation is “Allow.”
“It’s amazing how hard that is for people, to allow something good to happen,” Gold said. “Your bitterness or your jadedness to the world is what makes us feel like we’ve been there and we’ve learned and we’re in control, but it also kind of smashes our ability to experience delight.”
“Delight is a lot of times this kind of sudden thrill,” he continued. “And when you’re constantly scanning the horizon for trouble, it’s funny how you can miss that.”
The second meditation is “The Candy Confluence,” or becoming one with the candy.
“I engineered this candy to be incredibly nuanced, incredibly complicated,” Gold said. In the zine, it talks the eater through the experience of placing the candy in their mouth but resisting the urge to bite down immediately, and instead allowing it to rest on their tongue. “Allow yourself the delight of exploring every element, the sensuality of it,” it says.
The third and final meditation is “The Gravity of Pleasure,” “where you can always return back to that moment,” Gold said.
He said he learned to meditate while sitting in traffic in Los Angeles, and it is moments like that when we can call upon our experience with the Candy Sutra. “When you need to return to it, whether there’s some horrific pain you’re going through, or whether it’s just waiting in line at the DMV. ... It’s like this veil that separates your mind from what’s happening,” allowing you to be present, Gold said.
Candy has helped Gold decompress, he said, especially after he moved back to Utah after living in Los Angeles, and after his dad died.
He had friends who had a candy shop, and they let him work on his candy in the basement. He found solace and peace in the technical nature of candy, he said. “I would just stand there for hours just in total silence, stirring, just with a huge smile on my face. I loved it. ... It brought me out of myself.”
Pushing back against ‘the wave’
Last Christmas, Gold launched his own line of musical mechanical toys, which he assembles himself. He said the toys have many of the same meditative qualities that his candy does.
“The idea was to just conjure up emotions with people that maybe they hadn’t felt in a long time,” or felt like they’d left in their past, he said. “So I just wanted them to be really triggering and touching.”
The toys released this year are all music boxes, and Gold said his favorite is one called “Peace Between Us.” The softly glowing luminary features two wolves lovingly nuzzling each other, surrounded by trees and pink clouds. When wound, the toy plays the soothing “Clair de Lune,” by Claude Debussy, and on the back is a meditation on forgiveness.
“Beyond its visual and musical appeal,” the toy’s description reads, “this product serves as a reminder of the importance of harmony, unity and the pursuit of peace in our lives and relationships.”
Both Gold’s candy and toys are meant to push back against what he calls “the wave.”
The wave is made up of “pain and anger and fear, and aggression and mistrust,” Gold said, and is “literally crashing on all of us. As soon as you open up Instagram or any news feed, they are at you. And so you just have to be preemptively ready. And sometimes it’s a little bit of candy, or sometimes it’s a little meditative nightlight that tells us that we’re forgiving people.”
Another way he has been pushing back against “the wave” is resurrecting his fashion brand, Black Chandelier.
In its heyday in the 2000s, Black Chandelier had multiple brick-and-mortar locations in Utah and one in Seattle. It was known for its wicked combination of Victorian punk style and often black humor. At one point, Gold even put Austrian Swarovski crystals on live Madagascar hissing cockroaches and sold them as brooches, complete with a leash set so they couldn’t leave your outfit.
Now, Black Chandelier is a lot smaller — it’s run entirely online by Gold — but it hasn’t lost any of its bite. Gold’s designs gleefully skewer The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in which he grew up, as well as glory in the power of the cute, weird and esoteric.
Unlike back in the day, when Black Chandelier did its own screen-printing, it’s now all direct-to-garment digital printing, so the clothing and accessories are made to order. Gold said he initially wasn’t sure about the new printing method, but once it saw it, he thought it was “amazing,” he said.
Gold said he doesn’t plan to open another brick-and-mortar store, and enjoys working on his own. “I’ve been through a lot of business things in my day, and had a lot of different business partners. And this is best, just me. That way the art is never met with conflict. It just can flow.”
Black Chandelier is “one of my tools for operating delight,” he said, and an “outlet for humor. The feedback I received was people were quite tickled to see it return.”
The deadline to order candy and receive it in time for Christmas is midnight on Monday, Dec. 18; the deadline to order toys and receive them before the holiday has passed. Gold’s website will begin taking preorders for January delivery on any item if you miss the holiday deadline.