Zollipops’ 12-year-old founder squarely hits ‘better-for-you’ demand in candy category

By Adi Menayang

Health and indulgence are not mutually exclusive, something that 12-year-old entrepreneur Alina Morse, founder of nationally-sold candy brand Zollipops, knows perfectly well.

It’s safe to say that Morse was one of the youngest—if not the​ youngest—exhibitors at this year’s Sweets and Snacks Expo in Chicago. Her brand of xylitol candies, marketed for their teeth-friendly credentials, has been embraced by national retailers Whole Foods, Kroger, and Toys “R” Us.

“I’ve always wanted to create a business,” ​Morse told FoodNavigator-USA at the expo. “I’ve always been pretty driven to help people, and I figured this would be a great opportunity to help kids and adults around the world.”

Dental caries, the number one childhood chronic disease

The idea came up when she was offered a lollipop at a bank branch. “My dad told me I shouldn’t have candy because sugar is bad for my teeth, so I asked ‘why don’t we make a healthy sucker that’s good for my teeth so I can have candy and it won’t be bad for me?’” ​Morse was seven years old at the time.

Morse did research with her dad and found that, according to the US Surgeon General​, dental caries (tooth decay) is the single most common chronic childhood disease—five times more common than asthma and seven times more common than hay fever.