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Jamaica Busta Candy
Buss Mi Jaw: How To Make This Nostalgic Confection

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jamaican_buss_mi_jaw_snackJamaica Busta Candy

by Venesha Johnson | Associate Writer

Candies may not be “good” for us, but we can all admit just how much we love them. I indulge a little more frequently than I should, and tell myself that Jamaican sweets are made from natural products. Therefore, they are healthy by default. Another piece is just fine.

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We have shared one of my favourites with you before, Tamarind Balls, so it’s time to introduce you to another, Busta or their “government name”, Bust-Mi-Jaw.

This nostalgic confection, often individually wrapped in parchment paper, holds a special place in my and many other Jamaican’s hearts. It brings back memories of my childhood and primary school days for sure. How many of us have eaten a piece of that stubborn paper stuck to the Busta?

As a child, I wasn’t too concerned about the origins of the sweet, but I got curious. Sure enough, like everything else Jamaican, this small treat has an interesting backstory.

Origins and Name Inspiration:

Busta Candy derives its name from a towering figure in Jamaican history, our hero, Sir William Alexander Clarke Bustamante, who was affectionately known as Busta.

As the first Prime Minister of Jamaica, Bustamante was renowned for his advocacy for the common folk, and his firm character has secured him in our history as one of our best leaders of all time.

Busta may be a candy, but if you examine its ingredients, you’ll realise it isn’t as unhealthy as you may have thought.

Busta is made with freshly grated coconut which adds to its texture and flavour. The dark brown sugar, with its molasses content, lends a deep brown hue and a hint of caramel sweetness to the candy. Molasses plays a crucial role as well, adding depth and complexity to the flavour profile. Freshly grated ginger root infuses the candy with a warm, spicy kick, while lime juice brightens the palate with its citrusy tang.

A touch of vanilla extract adds a comforting warmth, enhancing the overall sensory experience. These ingredients, in perfect harmony, create a symphony of flavours that dance on your tongue. Before you know it, you will be unwrapping another one.

You may not be able to make most candies from home, but this Jamaican candy is different. Here’s what you will need to give making it a try.

  • Heavy-bottomed Dutch pot or saucepan
  • Wooden spoon or heat-resistant spatula
  • Baking sheet or tray
  • Measuring cups and spoons

Okay, let's get to the recipe.

Jamaican Buss Mi Jaw (Stagga Back) Recipe


  • Fresh Coconut (grated)
  • Dark Brown Sugar
  • Molasses
  • Water
  • Ginger (grated)
  • Lime Juice
  • Vanilla Extract (optional)
  • Salt


  1. Prepare a baking sheet or tray by lining it with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
  2. Combine the sugar, molasses, grated ginger, lime juice, vanilla extract, and a pinch of salt in a large, heavy-bottomed Dutch pot or saucepan over medium heat. Stir continuously until the sugar dissolves and the mixture forms a thick, caramelised syrup.
  3. Add the grated coconut to the pot and gently stir until combined. Continue to cook the mixture over medium-low heat, stirring constantly to prevent burning.
  4. When the mixture thickens and starts to “pull away from the sides of the pan”, transfer it to the prepared baking sheet or tray. Shape it into a square or desired shape while it's still warm.
  5. Allow the candy to cool and harden completely at room temperature before storing it in an airtight container or wrapping it in parchment paper for later enjoyment.

When it comes to creating in the kitchen, flexibility is your best friend, and knowing how to swap ingredients and employ clever tricks can take your creations to new heights. For instance, if fresh coconut isn't available to you, dried coconut flakes can serve as a suitable replacement, although it may alter the candy's texture.

If you are seeking additional texture variation, consider incorporating chopped peanuts, almonds, or walnuts into the candy mixture. It's untraditional, but give it a try before you knock it. You can also opt for freshly grated ginger to ensure a robust flavour profile, but exercise caution as ginger's potency can easily overshadow other ingredients.

Bust-mi-jaw, as I prefer to call it, is not merely a sweet indulgence; it's a part of our culture and tradition. With its blend of flavours and homage to a revered figure, this iconic treat will never go unforgotten.

So, whether you call it Buss Me Jaw, Stagga Back, or simply Busta Candy, one thing remains unchanged – its irresistible taste. So give this recipe a try and tell us what you think.

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References & Sources For Jamaica Busta Candy

  1. Shearer, S.-A.S. (no date) Best Jamaican Snacks & Desserts: Tasty Treats in Jamaica, My-Island-Jamaica. Available at: (Accessed: 09 March 2024).
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