8 min 31 sec

Sweet-Toothed Dentist Creates Sugar-Free Caramel Company

A pediatric dentist joins forces with her husband to sell sugar-free caramels. Starting from a goal of selling 100 bags at a local market, they go on to earn $100,000 in 2017.
Co-Packing Food High Profit Product

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What It's About

Sugar-free caramels lead to sweet sweet profits for this dentist and her husband!

Business Model
Skills Required
Experimentation & Candy Making
Profit Potential

Words of Wisdom

The side hustle journey is not always linear. In fact, it often isn’t. The people who are the most successful start with a dream and then turn that dream into practical reality as soon as possible. They ask hard questions of themselves, and when they encounter obstacles, they look for solutions.

Fun Fact

In addition to being a majority woman-owned and minority-owned company, Tom & Jenny's also prioritizes the employment of handicapped adults, which is a great example of someone using a side hustle to further their societal impact as well!

Notes from Chris

Episode 514

Day after day, Manhattan pediatric dentist Jenny Thekkekandam heard the parents of her patients talking about the same thing: the distasteful state of sugar-free candy. Wanting to remain on their dentist’s good side, they searched high and low, but despite their best efforts, they couldn’t find a sugar-free candy that both tasted good and satisfied the cravings of their pickiest eaters.

Almost as disappointing as the taste of sugar-free candy was the fact that many of them were too acidic to be truly good for teeth, not to mention packed to their wrappers with artificial sweeteners, flavors, and colors. This was problematic for Jenny who was in the business of healthy teeth.

So, naturally, Jenny started experimenting... which, as you know, is how many great side hustles begin. On the weekends, her tiny apartment kitchen would transform into a small-scale factory of sticky, confectionery delights. Jenny played around with lots of different recipes but where she really found sweet success was in a batch of sugar-free caramels. It wasn’t long until her husband, Tommy, took notice (and a caramel or two…) and decided to join in on the action.

A few years and countless iterations later, their mission to concoct the perfect sugar-free caramel recipe was still missing something. They wanted to make sure they had both tooth friendly ingredients and amazing flavors for their chewy creations, so they decided to look outside of their kitchen for a set of more knowledgeable taste buds. And those taste buds came in the form of professional chef and twice recipient of a coveted James Beard pastry award, Michael Laiskonis.

After a series of tweaks, their recipe was finally complete. The finished product? A delicious caramel sweetened with a gram of xylitol to help reduce harmful acidity and cavity-causing bacteria on your teeth. They were also soft enough not to damage teeth or dental work and unlike their sugary counterparts, they melted away within minutes.

It was finally time to see if they had created a product that consumers could really sink their teeth into!

And it sounds like it was a recipe for side hustle success! This year, Tom & Jenny's is projected to bring around $100,000 in sweet, sweet profit. Although they started Tom & Jenny’s with approximately $15,000, they’ve invested almost $90,000 back into the company. This has helped them create new flavors (including chocolate, ginger, coffee, and spiced rum!) and really flesh out their brand.

So, Tommy and Jenny now have a solid recipe and online presence for their business. Their next phase is to start introducing their caramels to retail stores, particularly the ones with a natural food focus. There, they’ll be more likely to make direct connections with the consumers, while making confections in their kitchen.


  • Tom & Jenny's: Nine out of ten dentists (seriously, what's up with that last dentist??) recommend Tom & Jenny's caramels—learn more over on their website!


Inspiration is good; inspiration combined with action is better. Now get back to work!

Yours in the revolution,


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Quote of the Day
"Whether you want to one day have a big exit or to run the business as a family owned operation for a lifetime, it's critical to have a plan for how to grow when you’re first starting out."
—Tom & Jenny Thekkekandam #SideHustleSchool

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Chris Guillebeau