The king of the gnomes is facing unprecedented levels of unrest across his lands! It is clear that it will take a grand gesture to regain the support of his people; so, he decides the best way to do this is to declare that their sad old shanty town about must be abandoned. Instead they will build a new happier village entirely of candy.

He feels absolutely certain that his people will love this idea, but when he proposes the idea to the builders guild, they tell him it can't be done. "The rain would destroy their buildings", "The fireplaces would melt", "The city would attract pests wanting to eat the houses", etc.

The builders guild suggests he simply have them make the houses to LOOK like candy, but that is not good enough for the king. He demands "No excuses, only solutions!"

How can the new gnomish village be made out of candy and still be a more-or-less permanent settlement?

In case it is relevant, the population of the town is about 1000 gnomes. The average gnome is about 20-30cm (8-12in) tall with a rotund build. Think more garden gnome, less fantasy adventure variety. Their overall level of technology is around 12th century Europe; however, their culinary science is on par with the modern day; so, they have no problem making any sort of food products that exist today (sans the modern packaging).

There are humans nearby with 16th century technology who are a bit more advanced than the Gnomes in most ways, but much less so in culinary sciences.

Magic exists in the setting, but the Gnomes have no access to it.

I am open to a wide range of geographic/climate/environment suggestions; however, the plot requires that the gnomish town be within a relatively short distance to the following: farmlands, a forest, a lake, and a mountain

So... no Antarctica.

The best answer will be one that is easy to understand for a younger reader. Secondary to that, a good answer will allow for a wide range of candies to be used.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Can the candy be coated in anything, e.g. a water repellent material? $\endgroup$
    – Jack
    Jun 11 at 17:34
  • $\begingroup$ The climate is also similar to 12th century Europe? $\endgroup$
    – Alexander
    Jun 11 at 17:35
  • $\begingroup$ @Jack The candy should preferably not be coated in non-food materials. $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    Jun 11 at 18:36
  • $\begingroup$ @Alexander It could be but does not have to be. As long as it is close to farmlands, a forest, a lake, and a mountain I could easily adjust the story to fit most climates. $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    Jun 11 at 18:48
  • $\begingroup$ @Nosajimiki candy houses would be much less challenging in very arid climate, but having it Egypt-like is probably not something that you wanted. $\endgroup$
    – Alexander
    Jun 11 at 18:51

Let's take just one house

I think solving the problems of a candy city is a bit too much. First we need to solve a single house.


There exists water resistant sugar. Thanks to fat proteins encapsulating the sugar you get hydrofobic properies. This can be used on any outer layer that needs water protection in a frosting form. Roofs, exterior walls and patios will be regularly coated (every month? Really depends on the coating, it's thickness and the erosion from weather and living). This will reduce some of the greatest dangers of your mostly sugar houses. If you're thinking "what about sinks, pipes and sewers?", you'll be glad to know those commodities were either a hole in the ground with possibly a shed on top, or non-existent/incredibly rare. Water from wells will do, though not wells from sugar I wager.

As an alternative you can use gum. Looking at how dehydrated gum on pavement can last for years, even with people walking over them (which seems essential for it to bond with pavement at the start) and being in all weather, it is a long lasting solution. Seeing how it isn't affected by water at removal, it seems watertight. Just compress it tightly on the surface and let it dry. Possibly compress it several times during the drying process.

Structural strength

To build you need strength in the build materials. You can't just grab some random hard candy (M&M?), slap some gum in between as mortar and call it a day. It should last. It lead me to an article that wanted to answer:

Objective measurement of physical properties of a hard candy confectionery tablet under crushing local compression force

After some conversion I saw that the hardest tablets had a compressive strength akin to standard concrete. 3626 psi against the standard 3500 to 4000 psi. A side note here is that the test might be in favour of the candy, as well as the small shape influence the test... Even if it's only three quarters as strong it's suitable to build with individual hard tablets, graciously giving them the benefit if a doubt that they're not actually worthless as building material. There might be some others, like those incredibly hard round candies, but I suspect that they actually cannot withstand as much force as you might think.

For mortar I would use gum. It is shown that gum can be terribly difficult to remove after dehydration on the street, so it can be used to stick all the little tablets together.

You can decorate the inside and outside walls with whatever you like. Just add the (clear?) Frosting on the parts that can get wet.

For windows you can use the hydrofobic sugar for candy glass, or use normal candy glass and use a clear coating over it. I'm giving the tablet gum combination the benefit of a doubt they have the structural strength that they can have windows. Just to be sure, make them small and round.

Separate floors

Separate floors I wouldn't attempt. Even though the walls might be created, I cannot think of a candy with the structural strength to hold up a floor. You could look into having several layers of candy cane, but be mindful it likely flexes too easily, leading to breakage of it's internal structure.

On the ground floor you can cover it with any candy you like, as long as it doesn't make walking impossible.


This also poses a difficulty for the roofs. Even if people aren't walking on it or placing furniture, it should hold the weight of rain and, more importantly, snow. To solve this, we might be able to use slanted walls as roof. Although we can start the roof after the straight walls, I would suggest slanting the walls slightly from the ground up, giving the whole thing a sort of high hut feel. The slant should be slight to make as much use of the compressive strength of the tablets.


Right now I would go for an empty, not candy covered bit of ground on the floor with just a chimney high above it. That way the heat wouldn't be directly damaging the candy. It would make it bad over time, but at least you have a working house with fireplace for a time before maintaining is required.

If you really want a fireplace you can try the following, but do take it with a grain of salt. The heat resistance is mostly meant for melting and has not been tested for open fire:

Granola bars, peppermints, fruit drops, sour balls and jawbreakers seem to have a good resistance to heat in extreme climates like Afghanistan inside cars or the direct sun without being refrigerated.

Roads and walkways

The roads and walkways will again be made of gum. It's reluctance to go away is highly prized in roads. The problem is that it'll likely get slippery after some erosion. You might want to renew the layer every so often, or have a team of road gnomes rough it up every so often. It'll help if it isn't like one enormous gum, but many individual ones so you can get some more surface area.


I skipped furniture, but I'm sure some creative solutions for these less demanding items can be found.

You can have rudimentary homes to create a whole village. Despite heavy reliance on just a few building materials, you can decorate the outside and inside with many different candies to hide this fact. This makes it a colourful candy village you might hope to achieve. As long as each non-waterproof candy in harms way is protected, you can place it anywhere.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Irori - a Japanese sunken hearth can be the solution for a fireplace. The simplest version would be a hole in the floor with a hook for cookware. $\endgroup$
    – Otkin
    Jun 12 at 22:09
  • $\begingroup$ Oooh, I really thought the fireplaces would be the hardest problem to solve, but if I go with an architectural style based on Celtic round houses, then that solves both the tensile strength and fire place issues! But could you better explain or link to what hydrophobic sugars are? $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    Jun 12 at 22:51
  • $\begingroup$ @Nosajimiki round houses are perfect! Modern society makes me forget those, but they also offer more structural strength. Hydro means water (like hydrodam). Phobic comes from phobia, or fear of. A hydrofobic material repels water, seemingly even more than most water-resistant materials. It can help a lot of loose sugar to float: m.youtube.com/watch?v=XJqy7k2IEzQ $\endgroup$
    – Trioxidane
    Jun 13 at 5:41
  • $\begingroup$ On the ground floor you can cover it with any candy you like - this isn't entirely true, for a few reasons - living creatures produce lots of water vapour through sweating/ breathing/ cooking/ showering/ that time you spilt something etc, and the job of a vapour barrier in your home is to prevent that water entering the structure. In most parts of the world, the ground is pretty much permanently damp as well, meaning a suitable damp barrier is needed underneath a property too. Great answer though! $\endgroup$ Jun 14 at 0:48
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ You could do roof rather easily if you look into something called Catalan Vaulting (also called timbrel vaulting). you are already creating tablets and that can lead to tiles. Catalan Vaulting is a system of ooverlapping layers of tiles and can create incredibly open spans (no internal supports) that are relatively light and very strong. $\endgroup$
    – Paul TIKI
    Jun 22 at 15:41

Tough one...

From the point of view of termites, a wooden house is made of candy.

Even from the point of view of humans, liquorice root is pretty close to candy. It tastes quite good btw, but it's quite fibrous, being a root.

So, what do gnomes consider to be candy? Do they agree with the humans? Or do they have peculiar tastes, which will surprise the human tourists visiting the town?

-- "What? But that's old tyres!"

-- "Yes! Delicious!"

Another hurdle is that in 12th century Europe, there was no sugar. Later it was imported by boat from countries that grew sugarcane. Sugar beet came much later. The main source of sugar was honey, which is not a mass produced commodity. So unless you have a large scale source of sugar... no candy.

I suggest going true to the metaphor: wooden houses, made of living plant, that produces large quantities of fruit.

  • $\begingroup$ There was sugar in 12th century Europe, but it was very rare. makingsenseofsugar.com/all-about-sugar/history-of-sugar $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    Jun 11 at 20:03
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ what about some kind of sweet fungi? It will be edible, sweet, weather-proof and will grow again after consumed. And also visually appealing. $\endgroup$ Jun 11 at 20:56
  • $\begingroup$ @CesardeBarros awesome idea $\endgroup$
    – bobflux
    Jun 11 at 21:22

Easily, if your Gnome Village has a good reason to exist.

The same way that some of our cities are permanent, without requiring invincible structures, your Gnome City can be 'permanent' too.

This is because that regardless of the longevity of the physical parts of the city, the ongoing viability, economic activity, and constant renewal within a city is the real measure that must be used to judge longevity.

For instance, structures can be 'temporary' (as in, not even structurally sound) but settlements could be 'permanent' due to the economic pressure to be there. Squatters settlements, park homes, and caravan parks are obvious examples of these alongside many modern mining towns - however not-so-obvious examples are many cities in India, China and Africa where the location is ideal for the city, but due to cultural or economic factors the buildings are not permanent and need constant replacement and replenishment.

Keep in mind too that many modern buildings built today are designed for certain lifespans.

As an architect, I regularly design 'permanent' buildings but knowing that the building I am designing will likely change shortly or even not exist in 20 years time. This is because economic situations would change, land values increase, needs of residents/patrons change, building regulations change or laws or political views change. All structures are actually 'temporary' and have lifespans.

The only difference then to your Gnome Village to a modern city is that individual structures may have a shorter lifespan. This is no problem for your residents, as if your Gnome Village is well situated, is economically prosperous and requires gnomes to live there, then they will replace parts of their homes / structures as needed over time, just as we do with more solid materials.

If our own cities were made of candy, and there were no other materials available, it may change the 'form' but not the 'function'.

So, in summary for your younger readers:

  • If a Gnome Family's house roof melts because it is made of candy, then Mummy/Daddy Gnome goes regularly every morning to the local Craft Gnome shop, and puts it on top, as s/he has done every summer day.
  • Mummy/Daddy Gnome pays for this because s/he has a job at the local Candy Factory located at the intersection of the river and the road
  • The Candy Factory needs to be on the river because water is the main ingredient for Candy, and it needs to be on the road so that Humans come and buy the Candy easily
  • Hence, the Gnome Village is permanently there between the road and the river, and villagers use candy to constantly fix and replenish their homes because they want to live there and live happily ever after.
  • This has worked well for so long, ever for as long as anyone can remember, because we all love candy.
  • $\begingroup$ "If your Gnome Village has a good reason to exist" <- This just gave me the best mental image of a human looking at the Gnome village like the display case in a candy store trying to decide what kind to buy... I guess if you need to show human sized samples of your work anyway, you might as well live in it? $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    Jun 22 at 17:00

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