American Link | February 10, 2015
Tour America One Candy At A Time
You may have traveled across America on a plane, train, or automobile; but have you ever traveled around the country without leaving home? Sounds crazy, right? Not so, says Omar Tatum, owner of the AmeriCandy Company. This eager entrepreneur promises a grand tour of the nation through a sweet treat that represents each state to a T.
To say Mr. Tatum is a typical entrepreneur wouldn’t do him justice. Omar, at a youthful 89 years of age, has had quite a life; and it didn’t always involve sweet treats. In fact, Omar has had many careers; he was a soldier, and trained young men in WWII, owned ‘Tatum Tire Service’ with his twin brother until 1961, and owned seven additional companies thereafter. Yet none truly showcased his creative ability.
One day, while working at his wife’s bookstore, he decided to switch gears. “People kept coming up to me asking if we sold chocolates from Kentucky. I thought, why not start a company with candy from every state in the union?”
Omar began to research the idea in 1980, and two years later he decided to put his untapped creative side to good use, making sweet goodies for an untapped niche market.
Product sales initially came from Kentucky storefronts, however the business solely functions via ecommerce today. “We’ve done really well with our online site and have had more business from the internet than we did in our retail store.” Today Omar is a one-man show selling his chocolates all over. “I get as many inquiries from around the world as here in America. The website makes it easy for me to sell to the world.”
“I’m doing what I’m supposed to be – selling the sweetest chocolates in the world.”
What makes AmeriCandy so special is that it is the only candy company on the planet that takes you on a tour of America though candy and allows you to design your very own box of ‘State chocolates’.
The process is quite fun. First, the company’s website includes a map of America. When you click on a particular state you arrive at a picture of the candy from that area. (By the way, the image enlarges for even more temptation.) A description accompanies the product as well as listing the ingredients. You can purchase a half pound of chocolates from the state of your choosing.
In addition, there are two other sizes of packaged boxed chocolates. The one pound box of regional candy gives you a choice of ten states from an area, such as eastern seaboard, central, or southern states. The two pound box gives you the grand tour of the country.
So what does the candy from somewhere like ‘Iowa’ taste like? To give you an idea, the ingredients include soy, eggs, & milk all wrapped up in a mouth watering chocolate shell. “We tie in something about that state with each chocolate. For example, with Florida we looked at an orange jelly, Kentucky – bourbon, California we went with raisins.” I suggest you look through all of them. Interesting, even educational and yes... you will want to try all of them.
The company also sells other confections such as molded chocolates that can be special ordered for personalization, whether you are ordering for your sweetheart or a large convention. Another special item is AmeriCandy’s top selling Ky Modjeska, a homemade candy with a marshmallow cream center hand-dipped in rich, creamy caramel. “Our best seller has a beautiful story behind it. The product has been around since 1893 when a candy maker fell in love with a theater actress, Madame Helen Modjeska, and created a candy as a tribute to her. It is manufactured in Kentucky, by Bauer’s, and sold though our site.”
As for being made in the USA, the candies are produced in high quality American manufacturing companies located in three states, Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Washington. Omar’s choice to have his products manufactured in American was “a no-brainer”.
“My twin brother and I were in WWII. When we finished basic training we were asked to become instructors. I trained so many young men who didn’t come back. I feel so strongly about America; so much so I tied it into the name of my candy company.”
What does the future hold for AmeriCandy?
“I am planning to get back into malls and retail chains with the launch of ARIK, or AmeriCandy Retail Interactive Kiosks. It will be the world’s first interactive and live retail candy kiosk. It doesn’t have candy inside but instead you touch the screen and are taken on a tour of America. Click on Alabama, for example, and then choose your chocolates from there. Place an order and in three days you have it.”
What is Omar’s business advice? “If you want to do something, just go do it. Don’t be afraid of failure. Not everything you try will work, but keep at it and if you love what you do – you will succeed.”
What’s Omar’s take on our love of chocolates? “Chocolate makes you feel good; it makes your mouth feel good. I really think it is a mental thing.”
Something tells me this highly energetic, positive thinker’s feel-good American sweets will be putting smiles on faces around the world for many years to come.
Credits // Author: Wendi Wendt - Photos Provided By: Americandy Company