RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. - Brandon Weimer has been selling toffee since 2006. It was then that a friend suggested the toffee he made was so good he should start a business. So, while they were still sophomores at La Quinta High School, Brandon and his friend Leah Post created Brandini Toffee.
It all began with a recipe from a family friend that Brandon has tweaked over the years.
In October of 2006, they started a website for the business, and things really picked up when their parents challenged them to make enough money to pay the cost of half of their school trip to Italy.
Shortly after Brandon and Leah went away to college in 2009, their parents opened up a storefront to make and sell the toffee from on Highway 111 and Bob Hope Drive in Rancho Mirage. Brandon and Leah would return to work there on holiday breaks and in the summer.
They make toffee coated popcorn, toffee cupcakes, and toffee brownies, but in seven years of business, they'd never made sesame brittle ... until they received a call from the caterer of the Presidential Summit at Sunnylands in Rancho Mirage requesting it.
"I said, Oh yeah," Brandon recalled of his optimistic response. "We can do that."
Brandon called it a huge opportunity and an honor to create a candy for President Barack Obama. It was also a challenge that had to be met in about a day. He bought a five pound bag of sesame seeds and got to work.
"I don't even know how that mixes with toffee," Brandon remembers thinking. "I didn't even know if it would turn out to be anything good. The first instinct was to at least try all options with it."
Brandon roasted the seeds and tried applying it to the toffee three ways: Putting seeds on top and inside the toffee was too strong. Mixing them in was good. Coating the seeds only on top of the toffee was best.
"It can settle on top and just sink in and stay there," Brandon said. "That's really what the best one we thought was. It turned out tasting good. It's got a nice flavor."
Brandini Toffee has received national acclaim, but Brandon calls creating a confection for the president the highest honor.
"Being presidential with anything, it puts us at a level above," he said. "We've been on Martha Stewart. We've won awards - national awards - in the chocolate category. I think compared to all those, this is our biggest thing."
Brandon Weimer just graduated from college, and his business partner Leah Post will graduate in a few weeks. They have their sights set on growing Brandini Toffee into the status of a community icon in line with the Coachella Valley's date production.
"That's really where we see what happened this past weekend as kind of putting us on that level," Brandon said. "They used our quarter pound bag as an amenity in the rooms, right next to the dates. That's like - to us - that's wow! They finally are starting to see what we're looking forward to."
Brandini Toffee is sold in specialty stores around the country, and in Canada. All of their products are available in their Rancho Mirage store at 42560 Bob Hope Drive.
A one-pound box of Brandini Toffee sells for $23.95 in store. To celebrate Brandon and Leah graduating from college, all items in the Rancho Mirage store are 25% off this summer.