Sweet Distractions

As some of you know, I recently tried my hand at running a candy business, which is the reason it’s taken me so long to get this blog started. I set this site up two years ago, and then devoted all my energy to blogging on my company website and promoting the business.

My company was called Tony Beaver Peanut Brittle. This is was our logo:

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The handsome guy with the barrel is Tony Beaver. Some people think he looks a little like Gaston, from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, which is what you get when you save money by hiring a high school student to design your logo and don’t figure out who it reminds you of (it had been a few years since we’d seen the movie) before you print up all your marketing materials, purchase thousands of labels, pay a professional to design a kickass website, and order business cards and big magnetic signs for your car.

Anyway, my husband, Marvin, and I were sitting around one cold January day, having coffee together and enjoying a few last pieces of homemade Christmas peanut brittle, when the following conversation (or something like it) took place:

Marvin: “This stuff is really good. I can’t believe a lot of people don’t like peanut brittle.”

Me: “I never liked it either until I perfected THE RECIPE.”

Marvin: “Most peanut brittle isn’t very good. It’s hard, tastes burnt, and sticks to your teeth.”

And then we looked at each other and the proverbial light bulb went on:

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We could change all that.

Or I could. Marvin was busy with his band and other activities, and knew nothing about making candy. So I called my old friend Diana, who knew nothing about candy making either, but was very enthusiastic about the idea of starting a business with me and shared my love for all things sweet. Actually, she wasn’t that old. But our friendship dated back to high school and that covered a lot of history. Over the years we’d pursued our individual careers (writing and editing on my part, teaching on hers) and we’d tried several business endeavors together, including a short stint delivering singing telegrams (in rabbit suits, no less!).

We spent the next six months developing our product, wading through red tape, filling out paperwork, and acquiring the various licenses and permits necessary to do business (thirteen, not counting special events).

Then Marvin, Diana, and I spent six more months making, packaging, and selling candy. And losing money. Big time.

It wasn’t for lack of effort. We spent every weekend from July through December at farmer’s markets, craft shows, Oktoberfests, and Christmas bazaars. And people loved our candy. Hopefully they loved us too (We gave away lots of free samples — how can you not love people who give you free candy?).   And we sold our products at a local bakery and online through our very own awesome website.

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BUT . . .

By the time we paid all the craft show entry fees, farmer’s market commissions, and money to the commercial kitchen, we were making about fifty cents an hour. And that was on a good day. We could have doubled our prices, but then we wouldn’t have been competitive. So we chalked it up to experience, held a fire sale (half off!) at a local church, and donated over six hundred pounds of peanut, almond, and cashew brittle to a local homeless shelter on Christmas Eve. Ho, ho, ho.

Then I went back to work on my book and Diana moved to Florida.

The other day I found a plastic tub in the corner of my office and discovered five unopened packages of Tony Beaver Peanut Brittle I didn’t know were there. Marvin opened one of them, and that sucker was still fresh after all these months (And we never even used preservatives!).

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