As an Italian living in California, I found myself missing some of the most elemental flavors from my childhood. As most kids do, I had a sweet tooth, and I remember spending evey extra bit of change buying candy on my way to and from school or at the ice cream kiosk at the park.
Back then Italian stores were always struggling to keep change in the register, and it became common practice to go to the 'drogheria' or the 'bar' to buy a piece of focaccia or a pastry and get back candy instead of change. Some of those childhood flavors have made it big all over the world: Tic-Tac, Nutella, and Perugina are some of the brands that you can find at almost any supermarket across America. Yet the vast majority of Italian sweets and candies are still mainly sold in the Italian domestic market, where they continue to enjoy great success with generation after generation of Italian kids.
When my kids started playing sports, I decided to steer them towards soccer, as it was the only sport I had somewhat played myself. As many parents do, I volunteered to coach, and it seemed fit that I would do so since I was Italian, and soccer is what Italians do.
It was during this time, on one of my trips to Milan, that I went to a food warehouse and I found this one candy that I used to eat by the fistful as a kid. It is called Goleador, and it has a little cartoon of a soccer player on the outside wrapper. I took a few boxes with me with the intention of bribing the kids on the soccer team with the 'magic Italian soccer candy' that makes you a soccer pro.
The Goleadors were a great hit, the team won their league, and the ritual of tossing a full box of Goleadors on the field after a win became a ritual that is still going on today. The kids on the team grew older and more successful, and went on to great fame and multiple National Titles, and the Goleadors were always with them.
It was by then that I realized that after every match, parents would line up at the exit and demand a cut of the loot. It is one thing if kids like a candy flavor, as they will eat almost anything that is sweet, but when i realized that the adults were just as mesmerized about the Goleadors as they players were, is when I decided to start importing the product in larger quantities. That was the moment when Sweet Imports was started.