The season to be jolly is here, so Fat City is looking around for
holiday gift ideas, preferably the kind that can be eaten (or used to
make something that can be devoured).
There have been records of toffee candy sold in England dating back to the early 19th century. Randy Webb, the owner of Lenexa-based Tallgrass Toffee, says he's seen reports of toffee candy dating back to the 16th century. Whatever the date, the confection is traditionally made the same way: caramelizing sugar or molasses with butter until a hard, brittle candy is formed. The best-known toffee in America is probably the 82-year-old Heath Bar -- owned by Hershey's since 1996.
Locally, a former chef, Randy Webb -- a menu development director
for Applebee's restaurants from 1994 to 2006 -- is manufacturing an
excellent chocolate-covered toffee in a variety of flavors, as well as
toffee fondue desserts and dessert sauces.
Webb purchased Tallgrass Toffee from its originator, JoAnn Mow, in 2007 after Mow decided to retire after three years building up the business. "She created an excellent, high-quality priduct," Webb says. "It had a great reputation and I thought I could really make the business grow."
Webb has been aggressive about marketing his toffee products through the company's website and attending trade fairs and shopping events like the Junior League Holiday Mart. "We ship toffee all over the world," Webb says. "The business has been growing every year."
The best-selling candy in his line of toffees is the traditional English toffee with almonds and enrobed in milk chocolate. Other confections in his repertoire include dark chocolate hazelnut, white chocolate macadamia nut, mocha, dark-chocolate-cherry almond, and white-chocolate-cherry pistachio nut.
Locally, the toffee may be purchased at his production facility at 14406 West 100th Street in Lenexa or at the Kansas Sampler stores or Dean & DeLuca.
"I'm choosing not to participate in this economic downturn," Webb says. I'm marketing my products any way I can, including guerrilla marketing and social media. When you have a great product, people will find you."