BUFFALO — When Kathi Lee Gifford’s 60th birthday cake was presented with great fanfare recently on "Today Show," its most prominent feature was the gleaming decorations made by a candy company headquartered in Buffalo.
While the co-hosts are noted for their morning “refreshments,” which they sip from elegant wine and champagne classes, no one really knows what they’re really drinking. But, when producers ordered the cake, they requested the decor include candy champagne glasses.
Cake makers Karen Tack and Alan Richardson, best-selling authors of “Hello, Cupcake!” created the multi-tiered cake, and used different sizes of shimmering white candies to represent champagne bubbles in the edible glasses that lined the cake.
The candies came from SweetWorks, located near the Buffalo Niagara International Airport, a company which employs more than 150 full-time employees — a quarter of whom commute to the Genesee Street plant from the Niagara County region.
Those who love chocolate will recognize the company’s former moniker, Niagara Chocolates, once a small, family-owned candy business. Now Niagara Chocolates is one of several candy companies joined by a parent company called SweetWorks, which has been experiencing a growth spurt in the past decade or so after aquiring the Sixlet brand from Hersheys. SweetWorks also acquired several other candy companies such Oak Leaf Confections from just outside Toronto, a maker of gumballs and jawbreakers and other sweet treats brands such as Break Aparts, the orange chocolate balls that break into perfect segments when slammed on a counter, and Ovation chocolate sticks.
As part of the company’s expansion, SweetWorks has gone on a hiring binge, bringing in new leaders for a variety of divisions including marketing and human resources.
Len Previte of the Town of Niagara, was recently hired as the Niagara Chocolates warehouse manager and he admitted that his family was pretty excited about his working in a candy factory.