By Michele DeLuca firstname.lastname@example.org
Niagara Gazette — A little chocolate company from Niagara Falls is going prime time.
Mary Ann Hess, owner of Niagara’s Honeymoon Sweets, fresh from a triumphant visit to the Daytime Emmys in April, where she rubbed elbows with Hollywood’s glitterati and talked up Niagara Falls with whomever she met, has been invited to share her chocolates at the Primetime Emmy Awards.
Whether it’s the sweetness of her product or her personality that drew the invite, the stars seemed to really enjoy Niagara’s Honeymoon Sweets at the Daytime Emmy show. Alex Trebec, host of “Jeopardy,” hung out for about half an hour at Hess’s table in the celebrity gift room, where she was handing out chocolates. Betty White stopped by to chat with her, and she even met the popular TV doctor, Dr. Mehmet Oz.
Then a lady came up to her and asked if she could have some chocolates for a friend. Hess asked who the friend was. The lady said simply “Francis Ford Coppola.” Coppola is the acclaimed movie producer and director of “The Godfather.” “I gave her a whole bag,” Hess laughed.
The whole gift suit idea involves merchants setting up booths and giving free items to stars who are participating in the productions. “The way I understand it,” Hess said “it’s hard for celebrities to go shopping without fans gathering, so they like the gift suites where they can see new merchandise and talk to vendors.”
“The networking opportunities are pretty amazing,” she added. “I met Melody Scott from the ‘Young and Restless,’ and when I got back home she called me and said, ‘you have to do my daughter’s bridal shower.’ “
“I asked her when it was and she said, ‘Saturday,’ “ Hess added, noting that Scott had called on the Monday before the event. With a little hard work, Hess was able to send tea cups to match the Mad Hatter theme of the shower, filled with edible chocolate framed photos of the future bride and the groom.
During the daytime Emmys, Hess also made friends with the ladies at the next vendor’s table — Tracy Melchior from the “Bold and the Beautiful,” and her sister, Robin Johnson, who were representing soap star Katherine Kelly Lang’s kaftans business.
“I’m not a big chocolate girl, but I love Mary Ann’s chocolate,” said Johnson during a phone call on Friday, adding that she and her soap star sister, are going to feature Hess and Niagara’s Honeymoon Sweets on a Hollywood internet TV show called “Jenerations” airing on www.TradioV.com at noon on Thursday, Sept. 19. Hess was told the show has 7 million viewers.
Hess was invited to the prime time Emmys gift suite of WOW Promotions, owned by Mark and Matt Harris in Los Angeles, who met Hess at the daytime Emmys. The Harris suite is one of six such rooms created for stars of the upcoming 65th Primetime Emmy Awards, which will air live Sept. 22 from the Nokia Theatre.
WOW Promotions owner Mark Harris said he was impressed by Hess at the daytime Emmys. “She’s got a great product and we always like to have a chocolate brand in our lounge.”
Hess plans to hand out her Niagara Falls medallions, featuring chocolate images of the falls, as well as edible framed chocolate photos of the falls made from pictures taken by local photographers Dave Young and Vince Agnello.
Hess will give away her four styles of chocolate clusters, including strawberry shortbread, cherry almond biscotti, orange cranberry walnut and pretzel, caramel with butter crunch. She’s also bringing the Niagara Falls medallions and framed chocolate photos of the falls.
And, by happy coincidence, she said, she learned that tightrope walker Nik Wallenda is expected at the Emmys, and she had already planned to give away her line of daredevil bars, featuring a tightrope walker. It’s a product line that she created when Wallenda make his historic walk across the falls, with the idea that a portion of the proceeds would always go to local charities.
While Hess admits hobnobbing with the stars is thrilling, the past year hasn’t been all that easy for candy maker. She broke her wrist and a portion of her basement was flooded. But, the “mountain climbing” she’s been doing to make her business work seems to be paying off.
The bonus prize, she says, is that when Niagara Honeymoon Sweets gets attention, so does her city.
“I’m promoting Niagara Falls with my chocolate,” she said.IF YOU WATCH n See Mary Anne Hess on Jeneration TV, between noon and 1 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 19 on www.TradioV.com.