Neil Steinberg’s article today has a nice section about a small Chicago toffee maker getting their product into Oscar attendees’s goodie bag. Like Steinberg, I appreciate the moxie it takes to call the Oscar people and find out if they would accept a product from a small company.
Every celebrity presenter handing out Oscars this year receives a big bag of freebies, including a box of Terry’s Toffee, manufactured, 40 pounds a day, on a single stove at the back of an elegant little storefront at 1117 W. Grand. How those sweets got in among the stars’ chic swag is a story of classic business moxie.
The company was founded three years ago by Terry Opalek, and his partner Michael Frontier, based on a recipe by Terry’s grandmother, Frances McCall, whose photo, and old toffee pot, grace one wall of the Grand Avenue store.
Opalek got his toffee into the Oscar gift bag for the first time last year by a charmingly simple strategy: He asked. He phoned the president of the academy, asked if they had food items in the celebrity gift bags, and could he send some of his handmade toffee. They did and he did, and the toffee was boffo, as they say in Hollywood, and led to celeb orders from the likes of Halle Berry and Mike Myers.
I found out about the toffee in a similarly ambitious fashion — Michael’s mom, Jeannette, was jammed in the tiny grocery at my health club, handing out free samples. You have to admire that kind of effort. It is how stars are born.