CHICAGO (Fox 32 News) - A Michigan teenager is writing her own golden ticket with a multi-million dollar candy business.
Fourteen-year-old Alina Morse created "Zolli Pops" when she was just seven-years-old.
"On a trip to the bank with my dad, the bank teller offered me a lollipop and my dad told me that I shouldn't have candy because sugar is terrible for your teeth. So I asked him why I couldn't make a healthy lollipop that's good for my teeth, so I could have candy, and it wouldn't be bad for me," Morse said.
Morse saved every penny from birthdays, Christmas and her grandparents to launch the company. Her dad matched her savings.
After two years of product development and testing, it was on the market.
"You have to be really tenacious, especially in my case when you know, you're a kid and pitching to adults," Morse said.
Her enthusiasm and poise paid off. Zolli Pops are sold in 25,000 stores nationwide including Walmart, Target, Kroger, Mariano's and starting this month, Walgreens. Retail sales this year are on pace to top $10 million dollars.
"Having a 14-year-old owning a company, that's kind of unheard of," said Morse.
She is in Chicago this week for the Sweets and Snacks Expo at McCormick Place.
The Zolli Pops brand has expanded to include drops, gummies, caramels, taffy and cookies.
"It has xylitol and erythritol in them, which naturally raises the PH in your mouth, neutralizes the acid and actually strengthens your tooth enamel so it takes away the bacteria that causes cavities and tooth decay."
Ten percent of the profit is used to provide free Zolli brand candy to school children across the country and promote oral health.
"Doing my research I found that tooth decay is the single greatest epidemic facing kids in America today, according to the U.S. Surgeon General," Morse said.
School children and schools can register to receive free candy here: https://zollipops.com/million-smiles