LOS ANGELES — A descendant of the Dum Dums lollipop dynasty has created the first-of-its-kind “climate candy,” made from imperfect and surplus fruits and vegetables. Each pack purchased rescues six carrots, three beets, one sweet potato, half of a squash and a fourth of a pumpkin from the landfill, said Amy Keller, co-founder and chief executive officer of PurePlus, a company dedicated to reducing food waste.
Ms. Keller is the self-described “disruptive granddaughter” of Norman Spangler, a second-generation leader at Bryan, Ohio-based Spangler Candy Co., which produces lollipops, candy canes and marshmallow circus peanuts. In 2018, she co-founded PurePlus with Kevin Wall, the Emmy Award-winning producer of Live 8 benefit concerts, and his wife, Susan Smalley, PhD, behavior geneticist and professor emeritus of psychiatry at the University of California, Los Angeles. PurePlus partners with farmers to collect and convert perishable produce into nutritious plant-based powders that may be used in various food and beverage applications.
Last year, PurePlus debuted its first consumer brand, FAVES Fruits & Veggies Sweets, offering a sustainable spin on Starburst fruit chews. Available in grape and strawberry flavors, the plant-based candies contain PurePlus’ proprietary powder, plus tapioca syrup, erythritol, sustainable palm fruit oil, sunflower lecithin and stevia extract. One package delivers a full serving of fruits and vegetables.
“FAVES has set out to solve the climate crisis by preventing food waste by upcycling perfectly good fruits and vegetables to create a candy that’s good for people and the planet, thus, making both healthy choices and climate impact more accessible,” said Ms. Keller, a climate activist and seven-time Ironman triathlete. “We don’t make a product unless it will deliver a real benefit and is truly sustainable.”
FAVES is available to purchase at myfavesweets.com and Amazon.com. The company also has partnered with online food retailers, including Foxtrot and SnackMagic and is planning an eventual roll-out in natural and specialty grocers, Ms. Keller said.
To support the development and launch of the brand, the company raised $1.5 million in a preferred series seed round led by Trousdale Ventures and PTK Capital.
“I owe it to my investors and to my board to make sure we’re generating this critical cash flow to fuel growth, we’re starting out small, being that category definer, and we are making sure we are really thinking about how we are innovatively using those funds for the next 12 months leading into our Series A round,” Ms. Keller said.
The brand aims to save 2.2 million imperfect fruits and vegetables this year. Future product development may include hard candies, which, like the chews, preserve the nutrition of the fruit and vegetable ingredients while delivering an indulgent, nostalgic experience, Ms. Keller said.“We never wanted to be just another fruit snack or fruit leather,” Ms. Keller said. “When you grow up with a Dum Dum in your mouth since you were 1 year old, you know what is going to satisfy a sweet tooth.”