You know you're onto something when Oprah calls your candy "transcendent."
That's the review the media mogul's O Magazine gave Cocomels after editors tasted the decadent caramel candy, which is made with coconut milk.
But it took awhile to get there. The company's founder, JJ Rademaekers, started his Boulder, Colorado-based business, JJ's Sweets, with the goal of creating natural candy made from sustainably sourced, organic ingredients. After a year of testing out recipes like ginseng lemon drops and lavender hard candies, JJ found a winner in Cocomels.
"Cocomels’ popularity grew organically," Rademaekers said. "We started sampling at farmers markets then grew from there. We can also thank the vegan and gluten-free communities for touting our brand on social media."
The reason for the fervent following? The candy's not-so-secret ingredient: coconut milk. Not only does it lend a tropical richness to the caramels, but also has the added benefits of being high in vitamins and fiber.
Plus, "Using coconut milk is also more sustainable, given the carbon emissions and deforestation associated with dairy production," said Rademaekers.
That focus on the environment is one of the key missions of Cocomels. The company uses only recycled and compostable packaging to reduce waste in landfills, and all ingredients are certified organic, gluten-free, and vegan.
"We think we have found the perfect balance between taste and well-being," Rademaekers said.
And there's plenty of taste when it comes to Cocomels. The most popular is the original flavor: the Sea Salt Cocomels. (Hint: Microwave them and they turn into a warm sauce that's heavenly on dairy-free ice cream. Be sure to add some additional moisture (like soy creamer, coconut milk, etc.) to prevent the sauce from hardening.
"For us, indulging in a sweet is similar to enjoying music and art. It provides an escape from life that people need for balance," said Rademakers. "Candy is not something you depend on for survival, but life would be a little less bright without it."
Photo credit: Paul Delmont