College Girl to Candy Girl
How This 20-Something Found a Way to Kick Sugar, But Keep Candy
Founder and CEO of cult healthy candy brand SmartSweets, Tara Bosch, has miraculously re-invented (thankfully) some of our favorite, classic chewy candies to fit the demanding needs of the growing healthy lifestyle movement and disrupted the entire candy category in the process. This is the sweet story you’ve been craving!
Tara Bosch was like most young women her age. She struggled with weight fluctuations and poor body image nearly her entire life due to her sugar-laden addictions. Read: copious bags of gummy bears, gummy worms, Swedish Fish, and fruity peach rings. But, not wanting to give up on her favorite past-time of polishing off an entire bag of Sour Patch Kids in a single sitting, she took to her kitchen and set out to find a healthier, better, even sweeter alternative. And, apparently, they’re a huge hit with Whole Foods, Sprouts, Bed, Bath, and Beyond, and other major retailers. Here’s her inspiring, sweet story of how she navigated through Candyland.
SmartSweets are mini, blue bags that contain the updated, sugar-free versions of the classic, chewy candies that have been around for nearly 100 years. With the superstar ingredient stevia providing the desired sweet effect, the latest newcomer to hit the candy aisle yields 80 calories, only 3 grams of sugar, and no added sugar for a single ounce bag. The brand’s motto, “Kick Sugar, Keep Candy” features guiltless indulgences of our all-time, go-to movie theater sweets alternatives, like Swedish Fish, peach rings, Sour Patch Kids, and others. Touted by fitness and food bloggers, the satisfyingly sweet-tasting treats beg the question, “Why is there still sugar in candy in 2019?”
Named one of Inc. Magazine’s 30 Under 30 last year, the Canadian candy connoisseur, Bosch, now 23, has brought her chewy, bite-sized sweet obsessions stateside. Officially launched in 2016, SmartSweets hopes to fill a long overdue void in the candy market, by offering a yummy-tasting alternative to the original, sweet-laden candies that have been linked to a host of health challenges, like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Unable to find a healthy alternative on the shelves that actually tasted like candy and not cardboard, Bosch developed her own. In the summer of 2015, she purchased a gummy bear mold off Amazon and started researching raw material suppliers to test different sugar alternatives, including plant-based fibers. Bosch wanted her product to be gluten-free, GMO-free, vegan, lactose-free, soy-free, and plant based and cater to the growing health and fitness movement. Bosch was determined to create a guilt-free, healthy swap of the original candies no matter what it took. She then met with various technical experts to help refine the recipe and the ingredients list. The bestselling, low sugar line is eerily similar to the look, size, shape, and texture of the classic candy staples. The current, addictive collection includes Fruity Gummy Bears, Sour Gummy Bears, Sour Blast Buddies, Peach Rings, and Sweet Fish. Each 1.8 oz. bag retails for $3.29. And, there’s more in the making!
So, when the fall semester at the University of British Columbia rolled around in 2015, Bosch decided to forego her studies to focus on bringing SmartSweets to fruition. She attended trade shows and met with a buyer from Bed, Bath, and Beyond. A year later, the SmartSweets Fruity Gummy Bears debuted at their registers all across Canada. And, the 500 Whole Foods locations that currently stock the hot-selling sweets are estimated to sell more than 2 million bags this coming year. The line has caught on with self-professed candy lovers and fitness fiends who crave a more health-conscious alternative to their insatiable sweet tooth. SmartSweets is now available in more than 10,000 stores in the U. S. and Canada. Based in Indiana, the cult candy company is currently working on deals with Target, Kroger, and Vitamin Shoppe and employees 28 people. Bosch has independently raised $6.1 million in funding from angel investors. SmartSweets is the first non-chocolate candy variety on the market that uses stevia as a sugar alternative.
You can follow Tara’s sweet, healthy journey through Candy Land @smartsweets and @smartsweetsfounder on Instagram.
You go, candy GoGirl! Your candy is GoGirl sweet tooth-tested and approved!