Young Lollipop Inventors’ Journey Starts With a Family Car Trip
“Are we there yet?” Those words haunt any parent traveling with children. But Al Cecere helped turn a summer car trip into an inventive time that could become a thriving enterprise for three of his children.
In July 1999, the Cecere family left their Gatlinburg, Tenn., home for a family wedding in Buffalo, N.Y. Along the way, sisters Laura, then 14; Julia, 9, and Gretchen, 6, asked their father to purchase lottery tickets each time he and his wife Gretchen stopped for gas. The family enjoyed some wishful thinking about what they would do if they won the big jackpot.
“I told the girls there are ways other than the lottery to make a fortune if they could just come up with the right new idea,” Cecere said. He reminded them of an article he had read about former U.S. Postal Service mailroom workers who invented the Spin Pop, a mechanical twirling lollipop that enjoyed huge sales success internationally.
Their father challenged them to invent a unique novelty lollipop concept. For the remainder of the trip, they used each stop to conduct market research and carefully studied candy products on convenience store shelves.
At the wedding reception, Julia was sitting at a table with a bottle of soda pop and a lollipop. She poured some soda into a bottle cap and began dipping her lollipop in it. Her dad asked if it tasted good, and Julia emphatically responded with a smile.
The Ceceres began brainstorming ways to invent a candy lollipop affixed to a standard soda bottle cap. They envisioned six flavors of a lollipop that could be screwed onto most name-brand plastic soda or water bottles. The Ceceres thought the endless flavor combinations of candy and soda that kids could create with such a product would be very appealing. They named their idea Soda Pop Top, and Laura designed the brand logo.
Soda Pop Top works like this: a standard screw-on beverage bottle cap has a short plastic hollow stem molded to the top of the cap. The hole goes through it like a straw into the inside center of the bottle cap. A flavor of hard candy is molded around the outer part of the stem-straw. This Soda Pop Top bottle cap with the lollipop attached to it can be screwed onto a plastic soda bottle or water bottle. The consumer then puts the lollipop into their mouth, tipping the end of the bottle upward like drinking a soda. Sucking on the lollipop to drink the soda pop at the same time mixes the two flavors in the mouth. A clear plastic cover protects the candy before and after use.
Six years later, the family is on the verge of seeing their dream become a successful reality.
Laura, Julia and Gretchen are now 20, 15 and 12. So far, the product has caught the interest of 7-Eleven convenience stores, Dollar General Stores and distributor H.T. Hackney. Candy brokers in 14 states have already been contracted. Manufacturing is set to begin soon, and the first shipment of completed product is expected this July or August.
The suggested retail price for a single lollipop unit is 99 cents. The Soda Pop Tops will come packaged in a 24-pop counter/rack display box and a 12-pop clip strip.
The family formed Eagle River USA, LLC to produce and market the invention. Part of the profits will go to charity.
For more information, contact: Al Cecere, Eagle River USA, LLC at (865) 436-4483, (865) 256-0372 or EagleRiverUSALLC@aol.com.