Set Report: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Part V: Candy
By Melissa Anelli
The Leaky Cauldron Staff
One of the strangest - and most fun - things about Leavesden is the way it changes. Sets seem to sneak up on you; distinct Hogwartsian areas, which might be a castle apart, are in truth right next to each other and you hardly realize where you are until a new world surrounds you.
So, the snow was the first clue.
It's not snow, actually. It's fake snow made out of Epsom Salts. Whatever it is, it spilled out from a corridor and I thrilled. Next stop, Hogsmeade!
It used to be Diagon Alley, and it looks like a Christmas card, complete with snow-covered roofs and icicle-laden houses. Those salts get everywhere - in fact, I'm sure some came back to America on my clothes. It's ankle deep, and fun, and had us all frolicking for a minute or two.
It isn't the real Hogsmeade; the real, full village is tremendous, and it's at Shepperton. This Diagon-Alley makeover was done for one very specific purpose.
Honeydukes is halfway down the lane and across from a wizarding hairdressing salon. It was Ollivander's in the first film and Flourish and Blotts in the second, and if it opened tomorrow as a fully-functioning candy store - Potter association or no - it would do bang-up business.
It could be a boardwalk taffy shop; in fact the wooden paneling and happy, colorful clutter makes the shop a whimsical Coney-Island-esque haven. Even the back room is fully stocked, as if waiting for customers.
A Harry Potter fan's real problem here is where to go first, though I immediately got to work figuring that out. In one corner pink cotton candy swirls down at least six feet from the ceiling, spiraling in a thick rope of sugar. Every step there's another book-check: trays full of fat slabs of coconut ice; a whole display of Bertie Botts, in such pride of place it makes you wonder if wizarding corporate sponsorship is at work; pumpkin juice everywhere; lollipops, way too big to lick, practically line the walls. Honeydukes Rock (candy sticks, a very popular British treat) made in Blackpool specifically for the shop, labeled such. "Shock of Choc: Add some shock to your chocolate!" Gummy snakes. Fizzing Whizbees. Black pepper imps. Ice mice. Sugared butterfly wings. Snowy flakes.
There was ooh'ing and aah'ing galore. Another reporter and I stood fascinated for several minutes at an arcade-style stand labeled "Clippy's Clip Joint," featuring a licorice-haired man with little elves all over his head, snapping off pieces.
When this room was Ollivanders, there were 17,500 wand boxes, all hand-made by roughly 50 people in the art department. As many boxes as there were then is how much candy there is now. It took three and a half weeks just to dress, and every box is hand-labeled. The L-shaped sales counter has absolutely no room on top of it for anything but candy, the jars lines the walls from floor to ceiling and even the back room is fully stocked, labeled and packaged, ready for resale.
Look closely at that L-shaped countertop, near the register, and you'll see another Mexican-Cuaron touch: intricately designed sugar calaveras, the candy of the Day of the Dead celebrations in Latin America and Mexico. They're thick and heavy like stones, made of what seems to be pure white sugar hardened into a mold, with accents and decorations on the rounds of the heads and over the noses and eye sockets.
It's hard to imagine how the place survived even one anxious sweet tooth, but the publicists confirmed for us a story that had been floating around the net long ago: when the set first went up a memo was sent out telling everyone that the candy had been covered with a lacquer preservative.
"It was complete rubbish," we were told. "They just didn't want us to eat it."
It also would have been against food and drug rules in Britain, so a savvy crew member might have stolen a licorice whip here and there. We were then assured that if we felt honor-bound to take a piece of candy, certain people would look the other way. Honor-bound? That's me. Just doing my civic Harry Potter duty. Don't tell anyone, but I had a piece of sour candy from a jar. Yum.
But for all the Harry Potter geekiness I was able to display in this store (explaining to the more well-rounded journalists that the coconut ice had to be in slabs, that the back room should have a trap door somewhere that goes to a basement - though I hadn't time to look for one - etc.), there was one element I had to search for. I had seen everything else, and finally started wandering around looking for the vampire lollipops.
I asked about the special section, and was given the now-familiar and funny "you know too much" look; but I knew that section was there.
"It's where - it's where Ron and Hermione are standing when Harry finds them, you know, he comes up behind them and they're looking at vampire lollipops and things..."
Again, the look.
I spotted one clear red lollipop, but so far nothing else out of the ordinary. Finally another journalist, standing in front of a large vat in what would look from the outside to be the front left corner of the shop, started reading out loud.
"Bat's Blood Soup?"
I rushed over, standing there grinning from ear to ear like a goof, in front of a vat of blood.
"This would be a fun set to dress," someone commented.
"No, it would be a fun set to eat," I joked as we went out and shut the light.