When most people think back on ’80s wrestling, they conjure images of Macho Man Randy Savage in a day glow cowboy hat or Hulk Hogan manically tearing through a T-shirt.
Candymaker and wrestling superfan Kay Menashe, on the other hand, thinks chocolates. To prepare for an ’80s wrestling convention on April 27 in New Jersey, Menashe created chocolate pops with vintage images of the spandex-clad Barry Horowitz and the G.L.O.W. (Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling) Girls.
Menashe, who originally started making candy because of her wrestling fandom, has been able to piggyback off the success of independent wrestling to transform her hobby into a small business.
As Menashe continues to network and rack up testimonials from wrestlers across the country, she has begun to expand her mom-and-pop candy business from her kitchen into the world of wrestling merchandise.
And these days wrestling means big business. WrestleMania 35, which took place in Queens on April 7, was the highest-grossing entertainment event in the history of MetLife Stadium at $16.9 million. While the rise of the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) in 2018 was meteoric, the indie leagues of wrestling like All Elite Wrestling and Ring of Honor have steadily been growing as well.
The morning of April 16, Kay was on her way to the post office to send a batch of custom candies to Matt and Nick Jakson aka The Young Bucks, two brothers who serve as vice presidents and the premiere in-ring personalities of The Elite, the wrestling stable for All Elite Wrestling, a new promotion founded in January of 2019.
“The indie shows are really where it’s at,” said Menashe. In addition to working on custom designs for the The Young Bucks’ newly minted wrestling league, Menashe said that she hopes to get a merch table at their upcoming live event Jacksonville in July, the promotion’s second-ever wrestling exhibition.
Menashe said that her wrestling business grew very organically from her and her daughter’s wrestling fandom. She started making custom candies for her daughter’s favorite wrestlers to give them as gifts.
“My daughter wanted to go to meet-and-greets with the wrestlers. And so we would just bring them candy, like just as presents. And they just loved it.”
The professional wrestlers loved her candy so much they began to give her shoutouts on social media, in the booming style of wrestling dialect.
“Hello everyone, I’m-m-m-m Matt Taven the real Ring of Honor World Champion. I just want to shout out my good friends at Kay’s Candy. Family approved. Highly recommended. Often imitated, but never duplicated,” said Taven, the reigning champion of what is arguably the second-largest wrestling promotion after the WWE.
The testimonials were important to helping Menashe build her profile. Right now she finds her clients through strictly social media, business cards and word of mouth. She operates her business completely out of her kitchen. To create her custom sweets, Menashe uses a scanner and an edible printer to stamp the candy with digital imagery.
But she’s had opportunities outside of world too. “It’s not just wrestling. It’s birthdays; it’s weddings; it’s everything,” said Menashe. She recently had a commission with New York Magazine to create 1,000 lollipops bearing their logo for a Restaurant Week party.
Asked about the future, Menashe says she wants to keep on expanding. The next step is to get a website going. Then she would like to try and get some contracts with companies.
Menashe is in the process of auditioning for a gig with Pro Wrestling Tees, a company that sells official merchandise for over 1,000 pro wrestlers. She says whatever opportunity comes next, she definitely wants it to be wrestling-related.
“There are just a lot of fans,” she said.