Ryan Coover never imagined he’d start as an architect, become a stay-at-home dad and then wind up as a successful candy maker — but that’s exactly what happened.

Coover only meant to teach his kids the value of money and good deeds with something other than a lemonade stand. But Coover Caramels blossomed into a company that captured the hearts of its customers with its award-winning family recipe from the 1930s and a message of giving back that customers embraced.

Coover also never imagined that he’d learn to dance with FDA food manufacturing regulations, that he’d take apart and reassemble a 1950s Rose Forgrove 22B double twist wrapping machine, or that he’d perfect the process of making the best caramel many people have ever tasted — but that happened, too. As Coover faced the challenges that arise in the journey of any candy startup, he tapped into his creative side, pushed the envelope and made things happen.

Coover Caramels has earned its spot in the market with its innovative branding, its philanthropic deeds, and of course, Grandma Coover’s amazing caramel formula. But now, Coover is looking for a partner to take the company to the next level. He believes bigger companies can build on the creative innovations of smaller companies. That’s what keeps the candy industry strong and vibrant, and Coover Caramels is ready to soar. 


If you were stranded on a deserted island with only one kind of candy, what would it be?

Having grown up watching Gilligan’s Island, this is a no-brainer. Once I build my bamboo raft, I’ll add a hollowed-out bamboo section and then fill it with Pop Rocks. Once the candy mixes with the salt water, I will jet myself across the water to safety!

What’s the last cool thing you saw online?

Road Bike Party 2 with Martyn Ashton (at the 3:45 marker it’s beautiful) – Google it!

When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

An architect who works on public architecture and supports needs around the world because public buildings celebrate our communities.

What issues concern you most about the confectionery industry and why?

The industry has always been welcoming to me. When you create a consumable product and you create it well, then things seem to just take care of themselves. Still, the capital it takes to move a great product forward in this industry is monumental!

What’s the last book you’ve read?

“Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” by Susan Cain.

What is your pet peeve?

When people lose sight of their noble, giving qualities and allow greed, power or wealth to define who they are. 

If given the chance to choose anyone, with whom would you like to collaborate?

Martin Radvan, global president, Mars Wrigley Confectionery, because he applies empathy in his business decisions, guides the foundation’s charitable initiatives and runs a family-owned company. It’s much like what we have been doing, just on a bigger scale.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

You have to put aside the important work to do the most important work!

What excites you most about your job?

Getting to present the Coover Caramels “Life Really Can Be Sweeter” awards to strangers, for when we shine the light on others, the world really becomes brighter.