December 2007 | Vol. VI - No. 12
Brass Ring: Bubbagum Turns Rotten Teeth to Gold
Candy Teeth Self-Promote With a Taste of Ugly
Patrick Brittain likes people to smile and laugh. Four years ago, he invented ugly edible teeth that make a lot of people happy when they wear them. Patrick told TDmonthly Magazine about the evolution of his product, Bubbagum — how it began and how it continues to grow.
FROM ONE CAMPAIGN TO ANOTHER
I was working on a national marketing campaign for a maker of fake teeth when I started inventing different styles. I thought, why don’t we make them out of candy?
The plastic teeth were $20, but even children can afford candy. And if they’re consumable, people will end up buying more.
Nobody thought anyone would buy ugly candy teeth, but I made the prototype — made it real — so people could hold it in their hands. I trademarked Bubbagum and found an investor. It cost $12,000 plus a loan of $200,000 to start the business.
I created six styles of teeth and packaging and in 2003 had them mass produced in China. We hit the market in 2004.
STORES TAKE A BITE
We were profitable the first year. We sold to costume shops and then I attended ECRM, a candy show. I’d been selling to individuals until Paul Minger of Walgreens bought the teeth for his 5,000 stores, which sold out of our edible bunny teeth before Easter even arrived.
Wal-Mart said it was the best candy product that ever crossed their desk. They really wanted them, but not for the price I was asking at that time.
TEETH DO THE TALKING
We don’t have a budget for anything but trade shows. You can meet with a large number of buyers in a small period of time, and a year‘s worth of contacts can be made at one show. We use distributors at the shows. It’s helped us, and we don’t have to worry about them pushing our product because they came to us.
I’ve been on talk shows and I’m often written up by the media. Our teeth are also used in reality TV shows. Stores put us in their mailers and use us to draw people to their stores.
The product promotes itself. The teeth break the ice in business and social situations, and they’re great for company parties, favors at wedding receptions, family reunions, etc. Kids like them because they can play with them before eating them.
We even created a contest where people send in a funny photo of themselves wearing the teeth. We fly the winners out to Las Vegas for a weekend.
PUCKERING UP FOR PARTNERSHIP
We’re growing slowly. Cash flow is a daily concern because I have ideas for 82 different characters for every market imaginable, which we’d like to bring out in two years. But, at this point, we can’t produce enough. We could do 100 times our revenue, but our investment capital is extremely limited.
I’d like to hook up with a bubble gum or candy company that understands our potential. I’ve had lots of offers for a buyout, but it’s a hard decision.
To make your own decision about BubbaGum, take a look at the products below:
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These vampire candy teeth are sure to bring some extra fun and fright to Halloween. Launch date: August 1, 2007.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 10928 (added 1/5/2007)
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Triple Alliance now offers these Easter bunny candy teeth. Launch date: January 1, 2007.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 10927 (added 1/5/2007)
This gruesome-looking set of teeth is actually made of hard candy. After kids chew the included pack of tasty gum, they use the gum to affix the teeth to their real teeth. Then they can use water to wear the included tattoo. Kids can use the teeth to help add flavor to their favorite zombie costume on Halloween, or just around the house when important guests of their parents come over for a sophisticated meal.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 6347 (added 1/5/2006)
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Writer's Bio: Elizabeth Greenspan edits and writes for trade and technical publications. She has interviewed and collaborated with some of the top practitioners in their fields. She lives in Philadelphia and travels extensively for her work. Read more articles by this author
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