How I Work: “The Only Toffee Maker in New York”
“Wow, butterscotch with sea water is disgusting.” This is what Marisa Wu thought many years ago when a colleague invited her to do something of her own. But then she researched and figured out how to make toffee flavored with real ingredients, not laboratory-created chemicals. Wu now runs Salty Road Taffy, a popular high-end toffee brand whose banana flavor resembles (and is made from) real bananas, each recipe carefully calibrated and cooked on vintage equipment. Wu gave a video tour of the toffee factory and talked about how to combine manufacturing, marketing and other aspects of her small business while sitting at a table in the factory floor.
Wu and her team make toffee flavors such as mango, creamy strawberry and peanut honey, all from natural food ingredients, all with crunchy nibs of salt that add texture and flavor. They make small batches using old equipment because there are no new machines for small confectionery businesses like her, because now that companies like Nestlé and Mars are making candy with huge factories and industrial machines.
This means that when the car breaks down, Wu and her team must find a mechanic who can figure it out. Over the years, she has worked with fellow artisans and even an elevator mechanic to operate the most sophisticated factory machine that cuts toffee pieces and wraps them in paper.
Something like a stopped car or a few absent employees could threaten a slowdown in production, which keeps Wu on her toes and fill out where she needs her, beyond doing business, dealing with distributors, and direct online sales (Salty Road doesn’t have a storefront of its own). In this way, she continues to use all the skills she has learned in the process of expanding her business.
Watch the video above to see the Salty Road technique and how they pack each part of the process into a two-room rental at New York’s Brooklyn Army Terminal. You will also learn what happens when you have to taste candy every day.