One of Maui’s most successful new culinary enterprises had humble beginnings.
“My dad used to make his old family recipe caramel corn once or twice a year while I was growing up on Kaua’i”, recalls Chad Miller, co-owner and co-founder, with his wife, Tiare, of Grandpa Joe’s Candy Company.
“He would have a copper kettle and two sawhorses. My mom would hold the kettle by the handles so that my dad could stir the homemade caramel mixture and fresh popcorn with his wooden paddle.”
“My dad started in the carnivals with his siblings when he was around 5 years old, selling Cotton Candy, Caramel Corn, and Caramel Apples. This was the plan they came up with to help survive the Great Depression, after losing 2 farms and needing to provide for a family of 11.”
Chad unsurprisingly gravitated to the culinary arts. He spent over 25 years in hotels, restaurants and other self-employed business ventures between Las Vegas and Maui. It wasn’t until his family started to grow that he would stumble upon an idea that would change his families life forever.
“With the third addition to the family now ready for preschool, the need for more income was apparent. We needed to come up with an additional $500 per month to help pay for my son’s preschool,” Chad recalls. “I had always wanted to make caramel corn with my dad and sell it on the side of the road since I was a kid growing up on the North Shore of Kaua’i.”
The rest is history…in the making.
The ideas started flowing and Grandpa Joe’s Candy Company commenced on Valentines Day 2015. How sweet is that!! Joe and Chad started with just the Original recipe Caramel Corn at the Maui Swap Meet, where locals and tourists alike received them with open arms. Over the course of a year, they added more flavors of Caramel Corn in tropical styles as well as an entire line of Organic Sugar Cotton Candy. They quickly became sought after by many commercial retail and event venues on the island.
Chad had to eventually choose to leave a lucrative managerial opportunity to pursue his and Tiare’s dream of owning their own business right here on Maui.
Today, you can find 19 flavors of Caramel Corn and over 55 flavors of Organic Sugar Cotton Candy developed by Grandpa Joe’s Candy Company online at GrandpaJoesCandyCompany.com and in over 32 retail locations located on Maui and Oahu.
The Made in Maui County Marketplace has played a part in the company’s transition to a broader sales footprint. More sales will require loan-backed expansion, including new equipment for manufacturing and packaging and a bigger space.
“We are so blessed and so thankful to be able to offer such fun and memorable treats to families worldwide”, Chad says. “Thank you dad for the opportunity and the gift you have given us”.