Electrical engineer, Steve Allen had a great idea when he saw his wife, Liz, attach candy to a gift bag for his daughter to take to a birthday party. He went straight to work building a machine that could make candy-studded gift wrapping paper.
Brand new in the marketplace, Sweetwrap (ToyDirectory) sold its first gift wrap order in January 2004 to a specialty candy store in Nebraska. As orders ramp up, Allen sees no danger of slowdown. “The machine works well as long as we keep feeding it candy,” says Allen, who currently has a patent pending for his innovative product.
Sweetwrap makes for a colorful display and hangs on a j-hook with an array of candies to choose from. The gem-hued candy is from well-established Concord Confections. Every candy they use has to meet special criteria, the most important of which is its ability to withstand weight. It also has to be resistant to melting, fit the size of the plastic cell, have eye-grabbing color and, of course, be tasty.
The wrap is a standard 22” x 39” piece, blister wrapped with a cardboard back. It retails for $5.99. A minimum order is only one case of 16 wraps at $3.20 each, and includes free shipping.
Allen suggests the product be displayed in a traditional gift wrap aisle, as well as by the register. “Someone who is looking for candy isn’t going to buy it,” he says. “ Someone who is buying a gift will buy it. It’s a great impulse item.”
Currently, the Allens are hard at work building their marketing program and compiling mailing lists. Liz, a graphic designer, produces their website, packaging, fliers and promotional items. This creative couple does have their eye on the future and the possibility of licensing. “I could see a candy company wanting to be a part of this,” she says. “ It would just be free marketing for them. We can see things like a Skittles gift wrap with a rainbow background, or other fun combinations.”