The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Web Extra

June 18, 2012

Organic candy: Satisfying a sweet tooth

Seven years ago, interior designer Howard Slatkin lost more than 100 pounds, an accomplishment that required a radical re-examination of what he eats. He took a rather methodical approach to his diet: He visited a nutritionist. He studied medical journals. He wanted to understand how the food he consumed affected his body and mind.

But no matter how much knowledge he gained, or weight he lost, Slatkin could not silence that little voice in his head, so familiar to anyone who has dropped a lot of pounds. It kept saying, "I want something sweet. I want more," says Slatkin, also a founder of Slatkin & Co., a candle and fragrance brand. "It's like a drug addict."

Although Slatkin couldn't control the voice, he could control what he fed it — to a point. If his studies in food and human biology taught him anything, it's that he should stick to organics whenever he craved a sweet. The only problem is, Slatkin doesn't care for organic chocolate ("bitter," he says), and the few organic hard candies on the market aren't to his liking.

So Slatkin did what, ahem, anyone would do in such a situation: He started his own candy company. The way he talks about it, creating Torie & Howard Organic Hard Candy was just as difficult as designing million-dollar palatial spaces for the rich and famous in France, America and elsewhere. (Just think about that for a second . . . and about how touchy it must be to tell such clients that their taste needs, um, refinement.)

It took Slatkin and his business partner, Torie Burke, nearly two years to confront and overcome the complications of entering the U.S Department of Agriculture certified organic market. Their candies finally debuted in January at the Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco and will make a return trip to the country's premier showcase of specialty products at the Summer Fancy Food Show this month.

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