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Rob Wunder: Green Willy Wonka

How can candy satisfy your kids' sweet tooth—and your strict standards?
Rob Wunder, co-founder of Yummy Earth, tells us how.

How'd you become interested in candy making?
My friend Sergio was feeding rice pudding to my 15-month-old, Jonah, and we imagined that soon he'd begin asking
for candy. We dreamt aloud of inventing an organic lollipop that tasted so good our children would ask for it instead of
'chemical candy'—with all that artificial garbage. We spent months developing a recipe and perfecting the production
process; two years later YummyEarth candies are selling out in
thousands of stores nationwide and in 20 countries. Apparently, a few other parents also feel the same way!

What's in your lollipops and candies?
Wanting the very best ingredients for our children, Jonah and Rose, Sergio and I chose organic. But we took it a step
further, sourcing our ingredients from around the world to use which we feel are best in class. Citric acid made from
Israeli sugar beets instead of genetically modified corn; bright red coloring from purple carrots instead of artificial red
dye; real pomegranate extract for our Pomegranate Pucker lollipops and candy drops. Organic pumpkin and black
currant is also used to create the vibrant colors. We really have fun with the recipes and truly make the candy for our
children and families first—we aim to wow them.

What does conventional candy contain that we might not be aware of—what are we really feeding our kids?
Food manufacturer executives are going to have to stand before Congress someday (like the big tobacco execs did) to
explain the thought process behind putting high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, artificial colors, artificial
flavors, and other junk into their foods. Many of them label their products 'All Natural' because there is apparently no
regulation preventing them! Parents haplessly put this stuff into their children's mouths all the time, so they're generally
thrilled to find an alternative like ours that their kids truly love to eat.

What sets your candy apart from the rest?
Taste. People assume YummyEarth will taste like health food, but our tart, delicious flavors make them jump for joy.
We also have a huge allergy following. Families often struggle with allergy problems—not being able to find treats that
allow their kids to feel 'normal.' We hear that word a lot. It's uplifting to us when we hear that YummyEarth is usually the
only candy they can have—whether it's an autistic child with a severely restricted diet or someone with intolerance to
corn, gluten, or artificial colors. Nothing gives us greater happiness than YummyEarth being their lollipop.

Are your candies actually good for kids?
Funny you should ask that. Our sour apple tart flavor is colored with wheat grass juice. We tested the lollipop for
nutrients and found that the wheat grass juice nutrients survive the process (we stopped using this fabulous ingredient
in October 2008 because it concerned gluten free people that were still concerned even after it tested as gluten free).
Some of our lollipops will soon feature Organic Acerola Berries, a South American fruit rich in Vitamin C. But we're not
trying to be a health food, just a healthy alternative to what our kids want to eat: candy.

How do you come up with new flavors?
We listen to phone calls and email from kids, moms, and dads and try to make the flavors they want. We also try to
come up with unusual combos, such as Blood Orange Cocktail and Chili Mango Mambo.

Did you experience any "eco-conflicts" in manufacturing?
We're not big fans of packaging, for example, we love selling bulk-size bags on because less packaging
is consumed. But the reality we faced when offering YummyEarth in stores is that consumers aren't looking for a plain
brown sack of lollipops—and stores won't put it on their shelves, either—so we had to use something if we wanted to
sell to more than just a few people at a farmer's market. Today all of our packaging is reusable or re-sealable. One
challenge we confronted was from our corn-sensitive fans, who have kept a steady drumbeat of requests against
using [biodegradable] corn-based wrappers. These would be more eco-friendly, but ours is the only candy they can eat
because it contains no corn products. We chose them and their plight over using a corn-based wrapper. Not an easy
decision, but a personally rewarding one when we get their feedback.

Looking at the runaway success of Yummy Earth, there seems to be a high demand for natural candies, yet there
are relatively few on the market. Do you see the trend toward natural and organic sweets increasing in the near
I do see a trend in that direction, but I see large corporations making only half-hearted attempts—as their main goal is
to make a label claim, not to actually use the best ingredients to produce something good for your family. In the natural
food world, it's always been a challenge to make healthy food taste great. I truly hope that our success can serve as a
model for others to create delicious candy that you'll want first for its taste, not just because it's good for you.

You mentioned that these sweets are the only ones you could get "mom approved" for your kids. Are they allowed
any other candies or chocolate?
Both my and Sergio's wives are pretty strict about what goes into our children's mouths—as are many moms today. We
review ingredients—they're allowed to eat our candy as well as organic chocolate we feel comfortable with. At first, it
wasn't easy saying no, but they learned quickly. Jonah will ask, 'Is this made of garbage?' If we say 'Yes' he just puts it
back and says, 'Yuck!' But I don't know how easy it would be if we had no delicious alternative for him.

Do you and your family eat organic and natural foods?
It's not hard to eat organic or natural foods—it's much more of a challenge to be a vegan or kosher. Most restaurants
serve salads, steak, chicken, eggs, and cheese. It may not always be organic, but it's easy to avoid fast food and
chemicals in your food at the supermarket or restaurants. It just takes a little extra effort and you get paid back in great
health dividends.

Have you and your wife ever had an eco-fight?
My wife and Sergio's wife went to Cornell University, located in the heart of the uncommonly green town of Ithaca, New
York. It's become one of my favorite places on earth. My wife has influenced me tremendously and I gladly lose every
eco-fight we have. Sergio grew up in Mexico City and loves the earth and trees and plants as his friends and extended
family. He grows many fruits at his house and smiles most when under a tree with his family. They are both my

What would you say is your biggest eco-chore?
Separating and managing recyclables. I've never been a fan of taking out the garbage, but today the process has been
elevated to an art form!

Is there any food you wish were green but isn't?
I wish hot dogs in Central Park were made of something good.

FROM 2007 and is accurate for claims and information as of 2007.
"the best lollipop
I've ever tasted"
Phil Lempert - TODAY
SHOW Food Editor
email us:  
support @
Sergio and I, two dads with young children, founded YumEarth out of our commitment to feed our families a
diet rich in delicious honest foods. We love dreaming up mouth-watering treats that burst with yum, a
combination of our award winning flavors and our dedication to the finest ingredients.  Our world famous
YumEarth gummies, fruit snacks, licorice, lollipops, and other treats are honestly crafted with our legendary
flavors and are gluten-free so everyone can enjoy.

YumEarth. Honestly Crafted. Always irresistible.

Thank you from Rob and Sergio!
"My mom and I LOVE the lollipops."  Molly, 12 years old
"Yummy Earth pops are the only pops I trust."  Jessica
Fundraising:  "when my class made a sale in school we sold organic lollypops because our principal
doesn't let sugar snacks and we only had 500 to sell and they all sold in 15 minutes. We ordered another
900 pops because kids are still requesting them."  Rickles
8 Year Old's Favorite!   "Thought you'd like to hear what my 8-year-old daughter said when we picked up our
monthly bag of lollipops.  "You know why these are so good, Mommy?  When you get a little on your lip and
then lick it off, it kind of sparkles on your lips. You know, Mommy, it's not like those...kind of...oh, the ones that
you think are going to taste so good but they really only taste like really super sweet and they all taste like
really weird cherry."  Her favorite flavor in the assortment bag so far is: pomegranate!"
"You guys are awesome -- I just think it's great to see people care about our little ones and want to change
the way people think about what we feed them. My three little ones LIVE for these lollipops and I gladly give
them one (or two) each day. I will continue to tell everyone what a great product you have and what a great
company you are. Thanks so much!" Jennifer
"Trick or Treat without the tricks":
We went trick or treating last night!  Our two toddlers collect over 6 pounds of candy in an hour and half.  I told
my 22 month old son Kayan (aka kaiboo) to pick one to keep, the rest is going bye-bye. He marched around
the candy several times, but wouldn't pick any, despite his Grammy chanting "chocolate, chocolate". He just
left and then came back with his dinosaur and circled again, not choosing any candy.  I pulled two of our
organic YumEarth Vitamin C suckers out of the pantry and secretly added them into the group of candies. He
marched around and went straight for the vitamin c sucker. What a proud moment indeed!  I absolutely love
that he loves them and made such a wise choice ;)
I cried in line - allergy mom:
I just wanted to write and tell you "THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!". I cried in line at Toys R Us because I was
going to be able to give my multi-allergic son his first lollipop! YEAH! He cannot eat casein, whey, wheat,
eggs, and peanuts so you can imagine what difficulty I have trying to find some treats for him to have when
other kids are having theirs. He absolutely loves them and so does my daughter who has no food allergies
but says "these are the best lollipops ever mom!" Thank you for making my kids smile and for making my
heart melt every time I give these awesome organic lollipops to them. Bless you  Yummy Earth, each and
every one of you!"   Melissa
Newsweek Interactive Interview
"My New Favorite": You guys are hardcore. Such a thoughtful and clean company!!! My new favorite. Everyone
should be as purely organic and ethically thorough as YumEarth!!!!" Kim