Meet the immigrant entrepreneurs who are adding their own sweet, spicy twist on Mexican candy favorites like chamoy – ABC7 Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES (KABC) — Sweet and spicy flavors are staples in Mexican candy.

When Annie Leal realized her dad, who has diabetes, had no sugar-free alternatives at home, she decided to make some.

“I went and hired a food scientist and together we decided what was the best – kind of overall candy – to start with,” Leal said.

The Monterrey, Mexico native made a sugar-free chamoy. It’s a tangy, spicy sweet sauce that’s popularly paired with fruit, beverages and more. As Leal documented the journey on TikTok, she found a large and supportive community.

“We get hundreds of comments every single day of people telling us why they love our product or why they connect with our company and we do hear a lot, ‘Hey, I’ve loved chamoy my entire life. I grew with it. But since I was diagnosed with diabetes, I stopped eating it,'” Leal said.

Products like Leal’s I Love Chamoy are resonating with consumers.

“When I moved to the U.S., I was always craving my hometown flavors,” said Danny Schwarz.

Schwarz, who is Mexican and Jewish, moved to the U.S. in his 20s. Like Leal, he’s also from the state of Monterrey.

“That’s when this idea came about, to bring something from home to my home now here in the U.S., so we founded Chuza,” he said.

Chuza is the Spanish-language word for a strike in bowling.

The company imports Mexican spices and produces a spicy, dried fruit snack in Southern California. The flavors include mango, strawberry, cactus and others.

“With 100% Mexican spices, no colors, no artificial flavors,'” Schwarz said.

For these entrepreneurs, some of their biggest supporters are their families. They’ve celebrated big milestones. Chuza is in hundreds of grocery stores, including Whole Foods and Ralphs in Southern California.

One special moment for Schwarz is when actress, producer and director Eva Longoria ordered the treats and shared them on her Instagram.

“It just gave us a ton of validation to keep on going and keep pursuing this dream of sharing our flavor, culture and flair,” he said.

I Love Chamoy is based in Texas and has been a growing family business selling online, and in more than 200 H-E-B grocery stores. After Texas, California is their next largest consumer base for online orders.

“Representation is super important in film and television, and we talk a lot about that,” Leal said. “Representation is also really important when you’re walking down the grocery store aisle and seeing something that’s made specifically for you, that honors your culture and just does it in a way that makes it more accessible for more people.”