Yessica Villegas recalls the time when two nostalgic young boys approached her candy table, set up at her parent’s popular food truck, Los Originales Tacos Arabes de Puebla. The boys seemed excited to finally have at their disposal candy that is typically only found in Puebla,
“[Their dad] was like ‘They just came from Mexico’ so I guess they were happy to be able to see candy that they know,” Villegas recalls.
What started off as a street vending gig has now developed into Dulceria Seís Oriente, a candy shop on the corner of Savannah St and Cesar E Chavez Ave in Boyle Heights.
“My mom would bring candy from Mexico and she would go to the sweatshops down by the Arts District and sell her candy there” says the young entrepreneur.
Villegas, 29, chose the name Dulceria Seis Oriente as an homage to Puebla. “Seis Oriente is an actual street of [the capital city of] Puebla, where you can find all the dulces típicos.” she says.
She defines dulces típicos as classic Mexican candies that anyone who is very familiar with Mexico would know. “Dulces típicos would be like Borrachitos, palanquetas, tocadas, camotes, jamoncillos, dulces de leche.”
“The state of Puebla is known for their camotes,” Villegas mentions, referring to the iconic and heavily sought out rolled, candied yams. She shares that in looking up the history behind some of the candies sold at her shop, she noticed that a lot of them originated from nuns at convents.
One of the versions she read about is the history behind the camotes. It says that a group of nuns wanted to welcome a priest with treats, but they did not have enough money for something extravagant.
“One of the nuns started baking yams and it says, I don’t know if it’s true or not, but this little kid came in and accidentally put something into the mixture so it made it gooey or thick and they molded and flavored them, so I guess that’s how we got camotes,” Villegas recalls.
Her slogan describes the business as “Un cachito de Puebla en Los Ángeles”
Villegas says that she loves to see when her products make her customers reminisce of their hometown or childhood. She comments that it happens often with “Bofitos”, a small, round, puff-like “cheeto” that tastes like a soft chicharron flavored with chile and lime.
“I like to compare [the Bofitos] to the Hot Cheetos of our time because a lot of people come and they tell me that when they were in school they used to save their money and buy the Bofitos to snack on,” she shares.
All products sold at Dulceria Seis Oriente come from Puebla. Villegas says that she gets new products to her store every two weeks. She adds that she tries her best to satisfy her customer’s cravings.
“When someone comes and they can’t find a specific candy, we’ll always also try to ask my uncle to go shopping and see if he can find it so that way we can bring it over.”
Now that she has a store set up, she has incorporated selling other Poblano products such as mole, nuts and seeds, cheese, pan de feria, and artisan goods.
Villegas believed Dulcería Seis Oriente is a great fit to a community like Boyle Heights, where there are a large number of restaurants and businesses that offer dishes and other goods from Puebla. “We work in Boyle Heights and I know there’s a lot of cemita places around here and El Mercadito is here as well and we’re kind of close to it.”
Villegas acknowledges that her candy shop is not as big as others, but she takes pride in knowing that she is helping other vendors along the way and keeping her business authentic. For example, she buys her calavera pieces from vendors in Puebla and has people who make the mole for her business.
“It’s all small owned. I don’t go to [smaller vendors] and lowball them because I understand it takes a lot of work.”
She says that while some of the items sold at her store can be found at other area businesses, she tries to provide her customers with the best products available.
“For example the seeds, I feel that ours are different; it’s a better quality.” she says. She mentions that “huesitos”, small, round seeds, in particular can be difficult to find here and that the ones sold at her store are bigger and not too hard.
Dulceria Seís Oriente is open Sunday to Monday from 11 a.m to 4 p.m. Villegas also sells candies from her candy shop at her family’s food truck, which sets up most evenings Olympic Blvd and Esperanza St.
“We are here, we do have a storefront and if they’re ever craving any candy during the week, they can come and pick it up.” she says regarding her customers.
Dulcería Seis Oriente