Candy Target Market: Grandma and Grandpa

Astro Pop, Wacky Wafers and other once-obsolete products skyrocket under Leaf Brands
Astro Pop

Ellia Kasso­ is selling experiences. He wants consumers to grab an Astro Pop and be transported to simpler, more carefree days. That’s what makes these products unique.

“Our model is a little di­fferent marketing model than most. … The influencers of our products are not children, but the adults, parents and grandparents,” says Kasso­ , CEO of Leaf Brands LLC, Newport Beach, Calif.

Leaf—whose original owners were relatives of Kasso —was once one of the largest candy producers in North America before being sold in 1996. As for Astro Pop, the cone-shaped lollipop was created in the 1960s, only to be discontinued in 2004.

“I didn’t originally start o­ff resurrecting the [family] company,” he says. “I started off resurrecting Astro Pop. Astro Pop was my favorite lollipop as a kid.”

After Kasso­ realized the Leaf name still resonated within the industry, he decided to restart the company and production of the erstwhile Astro Pop.

“[Candy] should make you laugh; it should make you happy.”

Made of cherry, pineapple and passion-fruit flavors, Astro Pops come in two sizes: a 1.5-ounce edition for specialty candy stores and the original 1-ounce size intended for mass and convenience stores. While the product is not yet in c-stores, Kasso­ says, “Our brokers are working on it.”

Farts Candy is the only Leaf product currently sold at c-stores. Found at Thorntons, these chewy candy nuggets (created by Kassoff and Jelly Belly creator David Klein) won the Most Innovative Product Award for Novelty Candy at the 2014 Sweets & Snacks Expo.

“[Candy] should make you laugh; it should make you happy,” Kassoff says. “Farts does that.”

Like Astro Pop, most of the products under the Leaf name were once obsolete. These include:

  • Tart n’ Tinys: Stackable, uncoated candy pieces available in five original flavors and new blue raspberry.
  • Wacky Wafers: Wafers the size of a half-dollar coin in banana, green apple, watermelon, orange and strawberry flavors.
  • Bonkers!: Rectangular-shaped candy with a flavorful outside and a chewy center filling. Flavors include orange, watermelon and chocolate.

Tart n’ Tinys are available now, and Wacky Wafers and Bonkers! are coming soon. Also on the horizon are line extensions, including Asteroids, a hard candy in Astro Pop flavors.

“Our goal is to continue to acquire other brands that might have been tossed away and also add new ones,” Kasso­ says. “And if something doesn’t work, that’s OK. We’re going to keep trying and keep building.”