Draper family has a sweet new businessNov 07, 2023 09:03AM ● By Katherine Weinstein
Dan Bruns, on the far right, took a selfie with his sons Danny, left, and John, center, when they dropped off their first shipment of Angela’s Finest Caramels to The Little America Hotel in Salt Lake City. (Photo courtesy of Dan Bruns)
After a long career in the corporate world, Dan Bruns decided it was time for a change. His oldest son was in high school, and he felt the need to spend more time with his family. In July 2022, the family decided to go into the candy business and became the new owners of Angela's Finest Caramels.
The whole family gets involved in the making and packaging of the candy. "It's a shared activity," Dan said. "I really enjoy that."
While Dan does the cooking, his wife Lisa and 10-year-old daughter Chloe do the bagging and packaging. Johnathan, 16, cuts the caramels while his 13-year-old brother Danny is in charge of wrapping them.
“When I was in seventh and eighth grade, I took home economics,” Dan said. “I’ve always enjoyed cooking and trying new things.”
Although the company is based out of the family's home in Draper, Dan rents commercial kitchen space at Anapurna's Kitchen in South Salt Lake to make the caramel. "There's a process to make them," he said, explaining that carefully monitoring the temperature with a candy thermometer is key to giving caramel the right consistency.
"The caramels themselves are all natural, there's no preservatives," Dan said. The recipe, which is naturally gluten-free, consists of corn syrup, butter, sugar, evaporated milk and cream.
He tweaked the recipe a bit since purchasing Angela's Finest Caramels from the company's founder, a woman named Angela in South Jordan. The family has also made changes to the original caramel-making equipment.
Danny, a student at Draper Park Middle School, explained, “We’ve evolved from what the original owner had. The stirring is automated, we’re working on making the wrapping automated.”
“Danny can wrap a caramel in eight seconds,” Dan added.
“For the first month or so, we had to count the caramels all by hand. We’ve automated that process too,” Danny said.
Johnathan, who is a member of the Robotics Club at Corner Canyon High School, works on improving the machinery. “We’re all about efficiency,” Dan said.
The Bruns family makes the caramels in four standard flavors; regular, cashew, pecan and black licorice. There are also seasonal flavors. “We have pumpkin spice and caramel apple for fall,” Chloe said. “In February, we launched a new flavor, cherry cordial.” Cherry cordial is Chloe’s favorite while Dan is partial to pecan and Danny likes the seasonal strawberry cheesecake flavor best. This winter, apple cider and hot chocolate flavors will be added to the lineup.
It took about a year for the Bruns family to get the business off the ground. Today, their caramels are sold throughout the Salt Lake Valley. Western Nut Company carries Angela’s Finest Caramels as does Pirate O’s and The Quilted Bear in Draper and Jolley’s Pharmacy in Sandy. The caramels are also sold at gift shops in area hospitals, The Little America Hotel and Everything Utah.
“It’s cool when people give our products as gifts,” Dan said. “It means that we’re part of someone’s traditions.”
Danny recalled the family’s excitement mixed with a little apprehension when they received their first order for 500 caramels from Little America. “We were like, ‘what are we going to do?’” he said.
By working together as a team, the Bruns are building a successful small business. “What do I enjoy most about it? Spending the time with my mom and dad,” Danny said. “We make fun memories.”λ