SIDON, Lebanon: Former carpenter Hilal Khaizan spends his afternoons bellowing in the streets of Sidon, inviting anyone within earshot to try his delicious red candy apples. The country’s sluggish economy forced Khaizan to close his small factory specializing in wooden bedroom furniture and head to the streets to ply a new trade.
These days he spends his afternoons at Bab al-Serail Square in Old Sidon, waiting for schoolchildren to get out of school so that he can sell his stock.
“It’s my new calling,” Khaizan told the Daily Star. “I have to ensure I have enough money for my family’s survival ... my only skill is carpentry, but times are tough.”
He carefully washes the apples and dips them in a rich, fluorescent red syrup, a color he says attracts the children and adults who pass by his cart.
He sells almost a hundred apples a day at the price of LL500 ($0.30).
The kids that swarm his cart after school adore this sweet treat, 7-year-old Ali Abu Tableh explained.
“The apples are delicious, I love their taste, and for just LL500! It’s better than buying a bar of chocolate because apples are good for the body, plus it’s covered with sugar,” he said.
Amal Najm, 9, is another child who frequents Khaizan’s cart.
“I wait for him every Friday so I can buy one of his apples, and I wish it would last longer before I devour it all.”
Khaizan is one of the last candy apple sellers in a profession in Lebanon that goes back 70 years.
In its heyday, candy apples could be found at numerous candy stores or carts.
“We used to buy them when we were young. The great thing about them is that they’re made locally and lack chemical preservatives,” 50-year-old Jumana Nakuzi said.
Khaizan leaves Bab al-Serail Square every day at sunset to make preparations for another day of candy apple selling.