One of the fastest-growing U.S. candy companies is in Michigan. And it’s run by a 16-year-old
By Taylor DesOrmeau for mLive | firstname.lastname@example.org
Alina Morse has been to the White House. She’s been a guest on “Dr. Oz.” She was interviewed on Good Morning America, appeared on “Shark Tank” and was part of the “Boss Baby” red carpet premier in New York City.
But the moment that really caught her off guard was in her Walled Lake Central High School marketing class.
“It’s pretty surreal when your marketing teacher puts your TED Talk up in front of your class,” Alina Morse said. “All the seniors are like looking at the screen, looking at me, looking at the screen. ‘This is you?’”
Morse is the CEO of ZolliCandy, which she started as a 9-year-old with her dad, Tom Morse. Her candy doesn’t include many of the top allergens and it’s sugar free – an idea she came up with after being guilt-tripped by her father during a trip to the bank.
“The bank teller offered me a lollipop and my dad always told me, ‘You shouldn’t have candy, sugar is terrible for your teeth,’” Alina Morse said. “So I asked him, ‘Well why can’t we make a healthy lollipop that’s good for my teeth, so I can have candy and it wouldn’t be bad for me?’”
So she started experimenting with ingredients in her parents’ kitchen.
“It did not work,” Alina Morse said. “I made a mess. We had to get some new kitchen appliances.”
Her friends tried an early batch of her suckers. They “sucked,” they told her. But Morse persevered, consulting her dad and her dentist for ideas.