Homemade Niagara-themed chocolates making it big in primetime
One small Niagara Falls business owner is taking her sweet treats and positive attitude nationwide. It doesn’t matter whether Owner of Niagara’s Honeymoon Sweets Marry Ann Hess is shaking hands with celebrities, molding chocolates or cutting hair, she’s gushing about western New York.
“I’m just a barber that made candy on the side for friends, now they’re calling me the first lady of chocolate in California,” said Hess.
Hess started Niagara’s Honeymoon Sweets eight years ago. She decided to turn her chocolate-making talent into a business after her grandson was diagnosed with crohn’s disease.
“So instead of him being a couch potato and sitting on the couch without ever being able to do anything I am going to build him a future,” Hess said.
When she’s not making candy she’s cutting hair at a barber shop in Niagara Falls. She operates Niagara’s Honeymoon Sweets out of what she likes to call ‘the state-of-the-art factory’ in her basement. The workspace has wide stainless steel surfaces, fridges, storage spaces, and a packaging area.
Hess makes chocolate medallions stamped with Niagara Falls-themed logos and a range of other items. Her products can be found at local businesses, but she’s does most of her business online.
Hess usually makes the candy all by herself, but when an order is too big or she gets overwhelmed, her friends come to her rescue.
“They’ll come over and help me package some stuff up, but basically it’s me. I’m the delivery person, the manufacturer, the you name it,” said Hess.
Hess relied on word-of-mouth for the first six years, but more recently her clientele has moved up market from locals and tourists.
“I got a call from the Presidential Inauguration in August and I thought it was a big joke, but it was for real. I hung up on the lady three times, because I thought who calls Niagara Falls. When we got to the event itself we were able to meet the people in charge at the pentagon. The whole thing was just incredible,” said Hess.
The inauguration led to Niagara’s Honeymoon Sweets being featured at the Sports Emmy’s. After that things snowballed further from there.
“We did the Daytime Emmy’s, it was incredible. I met everybody from Doctor Oz to Steve Harvey, Alex Trebek, Joanne Worley, Lou Ferrigno, the list goes on. I even did a bridal shower for Melody Scott from Young and the Restless’ daughter. Betty White actually called me and said told me she loved my chocolate, so I was so excited, I thought oh my god this is really Betty White on the phone. Then we got called to do the Primetime Emmy’s,”
However, Hess also has a secret agenda. Whenever she’s handing out Niagara’s Honeymoon Sweets chocolate, she’s working hard to change perceptions of western New York.
“When I walk into a room I go around and give everybody a bag and say “welcome to Niagara Falls.” They say “oh my god you guys are so nice.” I say “everybody in western New York is nice, we’re really not all bad, we really have good people here,” said Hess.
Hess is looking to move production from her basement to an off-site factory, and open a candy store.
“I’m just making the candy and going with it, so we’ll see what the future holds,” Hess said.