Who says you can't manufacture products on Long Island anymore?
Well, maybe not military jet airplanes, but certainly candy.
Nassau Candy in Hicksville has been turning out hundreds of different types of specialty confections for 80 years now.
But in April, Nassau Candy launched a brand of its own: Not Just Cereal, which is now sold in the snack aisles at 3,600 Walmarts across the country.
"The concept is a merger between a snack and a cereal," said Barry Rosenbaum, Nassau Candy's president. "Cereal is not just a breakfast food anymore. A lot of people don't think of it that way. They think of it as a snack."
Rosenbaum and his brother-in-law, Lesley H. Stier, bought Nassau Candy in 1984. When the company opened in the 1920s, it was on Front Street in Hempstead. Nassau Candy now occupies 250,000 square feet of space and employs 300 to 400 people.
When Rosenbaum, Nassau Candy's chief executive, and Stier, the chairman, took over, the company was a tobacco and candy distributor.
"We decided that was not our future," Rosenbaum said. Now, one-third of the business is manufacturing, another third is confectionery and the other third gourmet distribution.
But Rosenbaum and Stier thought the time had come to try something new. The chocolate-covered Not Just Cereal snacks comes in different flavors: fruit, cinnamon, toasted rice and honey toast. The manufacturing machines at Nassau Candy hum almost 24/7, spinning out candy in a variety of colors and shapes.
Manufacturing anything on Long Island is costly.
"We are in an Empire Zone," Stier said. "There are some incentives. But we stay because we are committed to this area." Nassau Candy is even expanding its facility.
Consumers would probably not consider Nassau Candy's cereal particularly healthy, said Jarrett Paschel, vice president of strategy and innovation at the Hartman Group Inc., a market research company in Bellevue, Wash.
Rosenbaum says Not Just Cereal is supposed to be a "fun" food that is fine "as long as it's not done to excess."
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