A Melbourne man’s sweet tooth has become a million-dollar brand available at one of the country’s largest supermarket chains.
Daniel Kitay launched his company Funday Dulces Naturales in early 2020, just as the pandemic began.
But the origins of the business are firmly rooted in its childhood.
“Growing up, I was quite overweight and quite obsessed with sweets, lollipops and chocolate as a child and teenager,” Daniel told news.com.au.
“At home, I was always known for stealing candy from the candy jar in the closet.
“Every two weeks mum and dad would come over and realize there was a lot less and check my room and behind my bed.
“They always found wrappers and they realized from an early age that I was very addicted to sweets.”
Daniel’s love of sweets stayed with him all through school, but when he got to college, studied business and law, he realized he had some pretty unhealthy habits.
She wanted to have fun and meet people, so she took the opportunity to cut the sweets, and in a year, she lost 25 kg.
But without sweets, she felt that something was missing in her life.
Daniel tried sugar-free candies, but soon discovered that they left him feeling sick, bloated, and gassy.
“I was torn because I didn’t want to eat sugary popsicles, but I couldn’t eat without sugar because I felt sick,” he said.
“I was stuck between a rock and a hard place.”
As frustration mounted, Daniel began researching whether there was an alternative and began looking at tapioca starch and chicory root fiber, as well as adding dietary fiber and lowering the sugar content.
Funday was born: gluten-free popsicles, with up to 91% less sugar, no sugar alcohols and 7 g of plant-based fiber.
“That’s part of why the brand is Funday: It’s about bringing that sense of fun and enjoyment back into people’s lives,” he said.
“We all remember being kids and going to parties and having fun.
“But as you get older, the guilt comes up and all these issues and you think twice about eating things. But I wanted to bring back that sense of fun again.”
Over the past two and a half years, the brand has grown with red frogs, gummy bears, sour bears, tart peach hearts and gummy snakes stocked at Chemist Warehouse, Ampol and other independent stores.
But the biggest milestone has been signing a million-dollar deal with supermarket giant Woolworths.
Daniel never expected the success that Funday has had since its launch.
“I knew we were doing something special in terms of products. I knew it was the first on the market. I knew it was really innovative. I knew, you know, that it was going to be something special once it was released,” he said.
“The challenge for me is to always play devil’s advocate.”
There’s more candy on the horizon for the brand, and Daniel says the company was always looking to expand, but wanted customer feedback before making a move.
At the end of the day, Daniel said that while LOL is a slang term for candy, it also means to laugh out loud and that’s all he wants to bring to his customers.