NEWPORT BEACH — In November, Jack McKenna became swept up with the idea to make and sell the perfect sweet.
Ever since then, the 10-year-old from Newport Beach has hit the ground running, forming his own company, Jack’s Rockin’ Chocolate Factory, which sells homemade pretzel toffee that’s covered in chocolate, caramel and sea salt.
The Harbor Day School fifth-grader has kept himself busy researching cooking techniques, perfecting a secret recipe, giving out samples to potential customers and spending his holiday in the kitchen.
“Once he has an idea, he is obsessed,” said mother Marcy McKenna, who’s been filling out order after order. “It took off really quick.”
Jack, a great lover of all things sweet and chocolately, wanted to incorporate all his favorite flavors, but it was also important for his candy to be organic, with no dyes or preservatives, so that it’s safe for his younger brother Colin, 8.
Colin was born with Williams syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that severely restricts the food he can eat. It also causes serious medical conditions, and learning and social challenges.
“It’s really hard for us to find food he can have,” said Marcy McKenna.
Jack is also donating 20% of his profits to the Williams Syndrome Assn.
“I wanted to try to donate money to them, so they can fix themselves and get help,” Jack said.
Colin, who was munching on a piece of his big brother’s toffee, said it makes him feel special that Jack did this for him.
“I love my brother,” he said.
The idea for Jack’s Rockin’ Chocolate Factory started with a simple conversation Jack had with his mother about college and business.
“I said I want to have a job making my favorite candies,” Jack said, adding that candy-making is a backup plan if his NBA and NFL dreams don’t come to fruition.
Jack’s entrepreneurial spirit might be genetic. Marcy McKenna is a professional inventor — and a winner of TLC’s “Homemade Millionaire” invention competition — and Jack’s great-grandfather created the delay mechanism on bombs and the starting gate for horse races.
This isn’t Jack’s first business venture.
At only 5 years old, he opened Flap Jack’s Restaurant in their home and put his family to work. He paid his father 50 cents an hour to serve as chef; his mother got a few pennies to be a waitress.
He made himself about $500 after paying his employees, but donated about half of it to his church.
With his latest undertaking, he’s already sold more than $1,000 of product to family and friends. His core customer base is in Laguna Beach.
Jack’s Rockin’ Chocolate Factory even hit a customer milestone Thursday.
Today was the first time Jack got an order from someone he didn’t know, said Marcy McKenna, adding that Jack made sure to promptly call the customer back when he woke up — at 6 a.m.
If you goWith school back in session, Jack’s Rockin’ Chocolate Factory is taking small orders (when Jack’s homework is done). To place an order, call (949) 554-8207.