Oprah approved: Rural Minnesota caramel co. named one of star's 2014 'Favorite Things'


A family-owned caramel company, based in a Minnesota town that's home to about 455 people, has gotten a big boost from a worldwide superstar with 25.7 million Twitter followers.

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A wooden box of 35 caramels produced by Annie B's in Kellogg, Minnesota was named one of Oprah Winfrey's "Favorite Things" for 2014 Tuesday morning.

“It is so thrilling to be part of Oprah’s elite 'Favorite Things' gift list and we’re excited for the adventure ahead, even if it’s a little overwhelming," Justin and Amanda Henke, Owners of Annie B’s, said in a press release. "We truly value our employees and wouldn’t be here without their hard work and dedication. It is incredible that our little 18-person operation is getting so much national attention."

On the website, Oprah says of the product: "Specially packaged for O readers, this box of rich, melt-in-your-mouth caramels (slow-cooked in copper kettles using all-natural ingredients), is the perfect gift for anyone with a sweet tooth."

There are 72 items on the list this year.

Getting on the list has long been seen as preceding an imminent huge sales surge, in what has been referred to as the "Oprah Effect."

Entrepreneur.com described two businesses who flourished after the "Favorite Things" release: Carol's Daughter, which went from $2 million in annual revenue to $20 million; and We Take the Cake, which turned a $19 profit the year before getting on the list, and within years was a million-dollar business.

But since Oprah took the reveal off the air (along with her show) and moved it to "O Magazine," Entrepreneur.com asks if the bump isn't quite as big anymore. The site's determination? It's too early to tell if the media mogul's picking powers have been diminished.

According to the release, the southeast Minnesota company found out when the TV program "Entertainment Tonight" called to place an order.

They'll be opening a temporary pop-up shop in the Lowertown neighborhood in downtown Saint Paul for the holidays. It will be located at 266 7th Street E., and will open this Friday following a ribbon-cutting with St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman at 1 p.m. Regular hours will be Wednesday through Saturday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.

The workers at Annie B's slow-cook the caramel treats that come in 16 flavors (with more expected). The company uses "all-natural, gluten-free ingredients free of high fructose corn syrup," with local products when possible. The only process that isn’t completed by hand is the cutting and wrapping of each caramel, the company says.

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