For most kids Halloween is synonymous with candy, but for Roxy Klein, candy has always been an all-year round affair. Roxy, 35, is known as Candy Creator at Can You Imagine That! Inc., the $1 million plus candy manufacturing company she co-owns with her dad, David Klein, the man behind Jelly Belly jellybeans.
Growing up in a real life candy land provided Roxy with an up close and personal education in crafting unique, tasty treats. According to her dad, since the age of three, Roxy has been coming up with new and imaginative candy product ideas. Since then, she has become known for her innovative and original novelty creations that now fill candy store shelves around the country.
Not all of Roxy’s creations are cheerful though, some are downright zany and definitely have a high gross-out factor. Blood Sucking Sour Candy Blood Vials, Gummy Bacon & Eggs, and Sour Cherry Pink Liquid Eye Pus, are only just a few examples of what’s dreamed up at the company’s 9,500 square-foot headquarters in Covina, California.
We caught up with Roxy to get the scoop on growing up in the world of crazy confections and what it’s like to be a Candy Creator.
10 Questions with Roxy Klein
What is your role at Can You Imagine That! Inc.?
RK: My main role as Candy Creator at Can You Imagine That! Inc., is to create new candy products, and market them. From inspiration, to sourcing supplies, to tasting and photographing them, I have a role in it all. After the new products are ready to go, it’s my also my job to find the right customers for the products.
When did you get your start in creating candy?
RK: I started developing candy ideas for my own company at the age of 3! But, the first product that I created, which went into production, was Sandy Candy,”The Original Sand Art That You Can Eat”… that was in 1996, my senior year of high school.
You come from candy royalty, what was it like growing up around so much candy?
RK: Although probably a dream fo most kids, growing up around candy was very normal for me. Actually, it is kind of ironic, since I was around candy all the time I did not crave it or overeat it at all. My parents always let me eat whatever I wanted. They worked very hard at making sure I grew up normally, and I guess since I still enjoy candy and vegetables, they did something right!
Where do you come up with your ideas? What inspires you?
RK: My mind is constantly working to come up with ideas. I am inspired by everything around me. New concepts sometimes goes through 3-4 stages before a product is perfected. The key is to always keep an open mind and always keep thinking.
How does a new idea turn into an actual product?
RK: My Dad started a tradition where we write our ideas down on paper plates (so the ideas can’t get lost on scraps of paper). So, step one after thinking up the idea, is to write it down. After that, we figure out costs and determine if the item is practical and feasible to create. If those aspects work out, we can have the new product in production in just 1-2 weeks. It’s a fast paced industry and you have to keep up and churn out new items all of the time.
What’s your favorite type of candy?
RK: Wow, that’s actually a really tough question for me, since I really do enjoy all candies. If I have to narrow it down to one, I would say Roxy Candy. Not because it is named after me, but because it is brightly colored, crunchy, great tasting, and it’s fat free, so I don’t feel guilty indulging!
Is there one kind of candy that has been shelved that you would like to see back on the market?
RK: Yes, I really loved Mars Bars. The Snickers with Almonds is very similar, but growing up I have some great memories of Mars Bars, so it would be awesome to be able to eat one again.
If you weren’t creating candy, what would your dream career be?
RK: Actually, creating candy is my dream career, but anywhere where I can bring my ideas to life, would interest me. Since most of my interests and ideas revolve around food, I would definitely stay in the epicurean world.
What advice do you have for someone wanting to break into the confectionery industry?
RK: My advice to breaking into the confectionery industry is to think about the big picture. Other than the initial idea, it is important to consider all aspects of a new product. Production and cost of manufacturing are two key points to always be thinking about.
Gummy brains, and bacon & eggs have been some of your latest hits, what’s the next great thing we can expect to see?
RK: We are currently starting to offer private labels on a majority of our products. This is really fantastic since it turns the candy into a souvenir. Candy stores can get their logo, name, city name, etc. printed on the label. I personally love souvenirs, and of course I love candy, so combining the two is very exciting for me. In addition to exploring the souvenir angle, we are also offering candies for promotional purposes. Our items are fantastic for trade shows and all kinds of marketing purposes for companies to get new clients.
Roxy’s Thoughts On Halloween
What does Halloween mean to you?
RK: Halloween is a fun holiday. Every year, my family and I open up our respective houses to trick-or-treaters and set up a table in the garage. We treat it like a carnival, and let everyone make their own candy sand art. It’s a good time for all. Kids come from surrounding cities, and have their parents drive them, since they live too far to walk. Every year, we have over 500 trick-or-treaters, and hand out over 750 items.