A Sooke couple, Kelly and Paul DeRocco, and their company, Fudge in a Round, will soon be featured on CBC’s Dragon’s Den and, although they can’t yet say how their foray into the den went, they are inviting Sooke residents to the Sooke Legion for a viewing party when the episode airs at 7:30 on Thursday, Nov.2.
“We can’t tell you the outcome of our pitch to the Dragons yet (there’s a confidentiality agreement in place), but I can tell you we have nothing to be ashamed of. We won’t be wearing bags over our heads when it airs,” said Kelly DeRocco.
It’s the latest journey into fame for the DeRocco’s, having recently returned from trips to Hollywood where their product was featured in Pre-Oscar and Pre-Emmy swag bags.
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But the trip to the Den wasn’t an easy one.
Paul and Kelly first had to audition in downtown Victoria, which put them into competition with some 4,000 other applicants vying for a spot on Dragon’s Den.
Although they were told that it would be at least 3 weeks before the results of the audition were known, it took only two days for the producers to contact the couple and invite them to Toronto for a taping of the show in May of this year.
It was the first fudge company ever featured on 12 seasons of the popular show.
“It was really amazing. You walk down those steel stairs, hoping you don’t trip on national TV, then you look up and there are the dragons and its an amazing feeling,” explained Kelly DeRocco.
It all started when, while on a 2008 trip to Vancouver, Kelly DeRocco bought some chocolate-coconut fudge and fell in love with the flavour. A few months later, long after they’d returned to the island and the fudge was long gone, she and Paul went in search of the same flavour, only to find that the local outlet of the store at which they’d bought their original fix of fudge didn’t sell the flavour here.
Not one to be deterred, DeRocco asked Paul if he could make some at home, and he, ever game for a challenge, gave it a try.
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After a wee bit of experimentation, they came up with what they considered to be a superior version of the flavour and shared it with a few friends and co-workers. More flavours followed, as did the development of more than 60 fudge varieties, and soon the couple was selling their fudge at the Sooke Christmas Fair, the Sidney night market and at the Inner Harbour in Victoria.
Their product is unique in part because the couple package it in sealed round containers because the product is not dried out and cut into squares, it retains a soft, creamy texture and isn’t as sweet as its square cut crystallized sugar counterparts.
“What started out as an experiment and moved into a sideline, now has become a real business,” said Kelly DeRocco settling down after an enthusiastic flood of round fudge puns (“It’s not hip to be square; We cut the corners to save you money; Once you go round, you’ll never go square,”).
“And we really need to thank the people of Sooke for their support. When we were invited to Toronto, we couldn’t afford another trip, having just paid for two promotional trips to Hollywood. We had fans of our product here in town (the DeRocco’s affectionately call them Fudgies) do a series of fundraisers to finance the trip. Without their support we wouldn’t have been able to do it at all.”