I’ll always remember the title of my first Candy Industry Opening Shots headline, “Not just a pretty face.” It was meant to be a bit of a teaser and somewhat self-deprecating, as I was replacing lovely Susan Tiffany as editor of this esteemed magazine.
Having been editor of Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery, a sister publication, I kinda, sorta knew my way around the snacking industry. Thus when given the chance to “jump into the candy bowl,” I did so — albeit with a bit of apprehension.
But then President Harry Stagnito sweetened the offer with promises of international travel and more money, I signed on. Well, it’s been quite a run. And thanks Harry, for introducing me to the wonderful world of confectionery.
During the past 17 years, I’ve tried to be the standard bearer for what I believe are the best publications covering the confectionery industry — Candy Industry Magazine and the Sweet & Healthy newsletter. Oh, we’ve made mistakes, and I’ve been responsible for my share, but that only happens when you stick your nose out and put your heart and soul into what you’re doing.
Over this period, I’ve experienced three company acquisitions, worked with six different publishers, hired (never fired) several assistant, associate and managing editors, and mentored a few interns. What’s keep me going through a variety of ups and downs has been the industry itself; from my perspective, it’s been the most approachable group of executives and professionals I’ve ever encountered.
I’m just going to rattle off some highlights here, such as the first cover shot I supervised with my good friend and truly creative photographer, Vito Palmisano. We were at Asher’s Chocolates and somehow Vito and I convinced Rick and David Asher to dip pretzels into a chocolate bowl.
As I explained to them then, we want something dynamic yet representative of what the company does. It not as easy as it sounds when you're shooting, but they fortunately went along with the idea and voila!, an approach was born.
Then there was the opportunity to travel abroad, to places I had never been to before, such as Switzerland, whereby I convinced Oscar Kambly, ceo of famed premium biscuit manufacturer Kambly, to do a photo shoot in the mountains after it had rained continuously the day before. A dusting of snow and sunshine that morning made him think I had some magic powers.
Or the time I ate bear meat outside of St. Petersburg in a restaurant that was often frequented by Putin when doing stories on three Russian confectionery manufacturers. I kept my shirt on.
And I’m really grateful for having the opportunities to travel to Ghana (World Cocoa Foundation) and Ivory Coast (Barry Callebaut) to see Theobroma trees and the farmers and their families who tend them up front and personal.
Trips to Brazil, Turkey, Spain, Norway, Denmark, Germany, France, Belgium, Italy, Serbia, Mexico, Canada, Thailand, Finland and across the United States have given me a great appreciation for the passion that so many candy and chocolate makers have for their craft, their companies and their customers worldwide.
And let’s not forget the relationships I forged with members of Candy Industry’s Kettle Awards Committee as well as the European Candy Kettle Club. Many of them are more than colleagues; they’re friends.
So why am I going down this memory lane? Well, this is the last column I’m penning for the Sweet & Healthy newsletter. Oh, I’ll have some articles and input in Candy Industry’s July issue, but it will be because of scheduling. June 29 will be my last day as editor-in-chief because I’m retiring.
“What am I going to do?” has been the question posed to me often after breaking the news to friends, colleagues and acquaintances. Well, my wife and I will move to Albuquerque to be closer with our grandchildren. We also will be closer to my daughter, who’s in San Diego.
As often is the case in the confectionery industry, it’s about family.
And on that note, I’d like to inform you that I’m leaving the magazine in excellent hands; Crystal Lindell, who was managing editor of Candy Industry, will take over the reins. She, together with Associate Editor Alyse Thompson, will continue to put together the best confectionery editorial possible.
It’s been sweet, folks. If you’d like to contact me, my personal email is firstname.lastname@example.org. Again, thanks for the memories.