Tourists flock to Florida throughout the year to enjoy its frequent sunny days, beautiful sandy beaches and diverse offerings of fun outdoor activities. The same environment that puts golden tans on tourists’ skins and smiles on their faces is also one that inspired an entrepreneur to develop a line of candy that everyone can enjoy. Fueled by its success and recognition throughout the Sunshine State, Anastasia Confections Inc. is taking its tasty treats nationally with great success.

In the early 1980s, Mike Constantine was the owner of a small tourist gift shop in Pompano Beach, Fla. Visitors would often ask him where they could find quality candy souvenirs to take home as gifts. Realizing the opportunity before him, he rented a small warehouse, purchased candy-making equipment and began manufacturing products to sell in his shop. Constantine focused on creating a line of novelty souvenir candies for the Florida tourism market with an emphasis on quality, value and appealing packaging.

When several local gift shops took notice that his products were selling well, it wasn’t long before Constantine was running around town making deliveries to many retail stores and airport shops. He named the new company after his wife. In the summer of 1984, Anastasia Confections was born.

“It quickly became a staple wholesale item in Florida,” Constantine says. “The first product was the Fudge-A-Gator – chocolate fudge molded into an alligator shape. Soon after, we introduced our creamy Coconut Patties, Citrus Jelly candies and a variety of chocolate products.”

Twenty-nine years later, the family-owned operation is located in Orlando, Fla., where the candies are made fresh daily in its state-of-the-art 80,000-square-foot facility. In addition to its popular Coconut Patties and Chocolate Alligators, Anastasia Confections offers Salt Water Taffy, Coco Dreams, Coco Rhumbies, Coconut Delights, and Citrus Jelly Candies. With more than 130 SKUs, the products serve a much larger and more diverse retail base.

“We have expanded our presence nationally and now serve numerous major retailers, department stores, supermarkets, drug stores and mass merchandisers. Our customer base includes T.J. Maxx, Marshalls, Home Goods, Dollar Tree, Tuesday Morning, Cracker Barrel and others,” Constantine says. “In Florida, we also serve theme parks, Walgreens, CVS and Walmart.”

Not the Common Candies

With the Florida market fairly saturated, Anastasia Confections has turned its attention to larger markets. “Our customers like our products because of the quality, great taste and value.” Constantine stresses. The company sells directly and via distributors, and has expanded nationally primarily through its growing broker network, and continues to add more brokers and distributors in an effort to increase its footprint.

“We have a lot of recognition in the Northeast and the Midwest because of the large number of visitors from these regions to Florida.” Constantine says. “When in Florida, they often take some of our products back home for their families and friends. Through the years, our Coconut Patties have created their own brand recognition strictly on quality and taste, without any advertisement.”

To serve the national market and large retail customers, Constantine understands that his company must have the proper production capacity. Over the past few years, he has purchased and implemented new equipment and automation to ensure Anastasia Confections is ready for the increasing demand.

Anastasia Confections is “very comfortable with our position in the industry and our projections for the future,” Constantine says, and that has a lot to do with the fact that it’s a family business. Both of his children are planning to take over as he approaches retirement. The company expects above-average growth in the next few years.

“Our product line is a bit different from your common candies,” he says. “Our candy is often an impulse item or a souvenir. People buy with their eyes and this is where the appeal of the box comes into place. Add a quality product and you have a winner. I believe we have accomplished both.

“We will continue to create new products that are great tasting, visually appealing and a good value. As a result, people will buy them again and again,” he adds. “All manufacturers are in the business to make profit, but I get the most satisfaction when we receive a compliment from a consumer telling us how much they love our product.”