Ellia Kassoff is officially the Comeback King.
In 2010, the CEO of Leaf Brands LLC brought Astro Pops back from the dead, and this year he’s bringing back four more classic brands: Wacky Wafers, Tart n Tinys, Hydrox Cookies, and Quicksand Gum. Bonkers candy is also in the works, but it may not resurface until late 2014 or early 2015. Sniff.
Out of the four brands, Ellia says Hydrox Cookies will make the biggest splash. “Hydrox is the only other national sandwich cookie brand. There are lots of private label sandwich cookies and a handful of natural sandwich cookie brands, but Oreo and Hydrox really are ‘it’ when it comes to a national brand,” explains Ellia.
The Leaf Brands business model is centered around snatching up brands with lapsed trademarks.
“We find a products on the side of the road and we say, ‘Maybe we can do something with this,'” says Ellia. “We dust it off and go from there.”
Ellia fully admits it’s been a litigious and expensive undertaking with certain brands, but says he can handle the challenges.
A major part of the revival process is extensive R&D to bring products back to their original flavor profiles, color, size, and packaging. Ellia had the good fortune of finding a food technologist from the original Bonkers candy line who is helping him formulate this classic candy’s comeback. “We want the same product as people remembered,” says Ellia.
There is some leeway to satisfy modern-day taste buds, though. Blue raspberry was added to Tart n Tinys’ flavor lineup as were a few new fruit flavors to Quicksand Bubble Gum. Wacky Wafer flavors will remain in sync with the early 1980s 5-flavor pack, which included watermelon, green apple, orange, strawberry, and banana.
Leaf Brands’ target audience is children of the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s who are eager to share their favorite candy brands with their own kids and grand kids.
“I recently got a call from a consumer who says he wants 1,000 cases of Bonkers as soon as they are available,” says Ellia. “It’s his favorite childhood candy and he wants to give it to friends and family.”
Crazy? Not really. I’d buy multiple cases of braided caramel Marathon Bars if they miraculously came back from the grave.