116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
For about $12, Eastern Iowans and people all over the world can nosh like a superstar before, during and after Sunday's 59th annual Grammy Awards, airing at 7 p.m. on CBS.
Tucked alongside a swag bag certificate for an $8,850 spa week, a 'smart home” starter kit, a $2,316 year's supply of hair-loss prevention serum, a $99 cellulite-reducing massage mat, a CPR kit, luxury volume hair extensions, a lamp shade, jewelry, original art and about 30 other items, will be two bags of Betty Jane Candies, straight from Dubuque.
'They call it a ‘swag bag.' I have a feeling it's more like a swag ‘crate' or a swag ‘truck,'”
said Betty Jane president Drew Siegert, whose family bought the company in 2011. Founded in 1938 in Dubuque, Betty Jane Candies has two stores in its hometown and one in Collins Road Square, across from its former home in Cedar Rapids' Lindale Mall.
Company officials chose two of the most popular items for the Grammys - Gremlin Snackers (pecans and caramel covered in chocolate), which date back to the company's beginnings, and Betty's Bites (milk chocolate, caramel, sea salt pretzel bites), developed last June.
'They're the cornerstones of our new snack lines,” Siegert said.
The snacks can be found in 14- and 6-ounce sizes online and in about 100 wholesalers, including area Hy-Vee and Fareway food stores, convenience stores and gas stations.
It's not Betty Jane's first taste of fame.
The candies also were included in the 2014 Academy Awards swag bags, thanks to scouts who discovered the homemade confections during a Chicago candy convention. About the same time, People magazine proclaimed Betty Jane Candies as Iowa's top culinary gift. The late Betty Jane France, NASCAR's matriarch, also was a fan and loyal customer. She not only enjoyed seeing her name on a box of chocolates, she also said that her handwriting looked like the font used on the company's logo, Siegert noted.
When it was time to gather this year's Grammy goods, Distinctive Assets, the same entertainment marketing company that assembled the 2014 Oscars bags, contacted Betty Jane headquarters. Each bag, available to presenters and performers, is valued at $30,000. Betty Jane donated enough candies to place two 14-ounce bags in 128 Grammy gift bags.
'We think it's really cool,” Siegert said of the star-power exposure, which he hopes will translate into social media posts and increased product awareness. 'But it's more exciting for us that our fans seem to think that it's something kind of special.
'Coming from a fairly small town like Dubuque, and the state of Iowa, we're very happy to represent the Midwest in that way. It's not often that you'll see things from not only Iowa but Dubuque especially, in something that high–profile. So it's really cool for us, but we get more excited about feeding off of our fan's excitement.”
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