Skip to main content

A tasty adventure of reinvention: Sharay’s Ghana Style Brittle

Business partners look to expand business with recent purchase of Sweet P’s Pantry

share arrow printer bookmark flag

November 29, 2023

APPLETON – A hankering for a favorite childhood snack has taken Yaw “Sharay” Asare on a whirlwind entrepreneurial journey.

Sharay’s Ghana Style Brittle product line has set a foundation for the overarching business known as Gold Coast Candy.

Asare said he grew up enjoying “Nkate” (which is made from groundnuts and granulated sugar and is similar to peanut brittle) and was reminded of the delicious snack during a visit to his home country of Ghana.

Upon returning to Appleton, he sought the same product as a snack but said he failed to find it anywhere.

Determined to have Nkate, he borrowed a recipe book from his mother and headed into the kitchen.

“He played around and made a couple of brittles, and I clearly remember him bringing one to one of our social gatherings,” Orson Fournillier, co-owner of Sharay’s Ghana Style Brittle, said. “I thought, ‘This is pretty good.’ I told him, ‘I think you have something here.’”

That “something” was brittle unlike anything most Americans have ever tasted.

Sharay’s brittle features chopped nuts, which he said helps extract the flavor and oils, combined with caramelized cane sugar, water and salt.

The result, Asare said, is a rich, vegan, gluten-free creation that is both sweet and savory and doesn’t stick to your teeth.

In addition, he said the recipe disperses the nuts throughout the brittle so every bite has a nutty flavor rather than random nuts throughout the brittle.

Yaw “Sharay” Asare said Sharay’s brittle, which features chopped nuts, caramelized cane sugar, water and salt, is sweet and savory and doesn’t stick to your teeth. Submitted Photo

Sharay’s offers four classic brittle flavors – peanut, cashew, pistachio and pecan – all made with custom recipes.

“You will not find this brittle in Africa,” Fournillier said. “You will not find it anywhere. It’s a beautiful fusion of rich nut flavor that’s easy to bite into and doesn’t stick to your teeth.”

In addition to the classic nut brittles, Sharay’s offers a three-seed brittle featuring pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds.

All are sold under the Sharay’s product line, which Asare said was his nickname.

Slow, steady growth
Sharay’s Ghana Style Brittle is the first brand for Gold Coast Candy, a name that Asare said was inspired by the former name of the Republic of Ghana.

Initially, Asare said he worked with Sharon Pavich of Sweet P’s Pantry in Oconomowoc to serve as the co-packer.

Together, they perfected the recipe, packaging an initial order of 300 bags of brittle in 2019. 

“Yaw was purveying the brittle out of his car and selling to friends and family,” Fournillier said. “He also built a relationship with the first retail customer, The Free Market in Appleton.”

In 2020, Asare said he began creating awareness for the brittle at the Downtown Appleton Farm Market, which sparked even more interest resulting in 15 retail stores selling Sharay’s brittle, as well as the start of online sales.

Fournillier joined the business at the end of 2020 as co-owner, bringing a background in business and operations to Sharay’s. 

By 2021, the duo had added 11 more retail stores and set up shop at the Oshkosh Saturday Farmers Market and the Farmers Market on Broadway in Green Bay.

In 2023, Asare said they added the Oconomowoc Summer Farmers Market to their event rotation and have participated in a couple of other markets to test their viability.

In addition to being great direct-to-consumer sales opportunities, Asare said the markets provide an opportunity for him and Fournillier to showcase their personalities and sales dynamo as “The Brittle Daddies” – through signage, samples and fresh product – but also West African music and the banter for which the friends of 10 years are known for.

“We’re personable and laugh a lot, and the term ‘Brittle Daddies’ just stuck,” Fournillier said. “Sharay is Brittle Daddy No. 1 and I’m Brittle Daddy No. 2. We like to say we bring the vibes, the samples and the brittle, and that’s our farmers’ market persona.”

The co-owners participated in Season 6 of Project Pitch, a television show presented by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Lubar Entrepreneurship Center, in March 2022.

The “Shark Tank”-style program featured 24 Wisconsin-based entrepreneurs pitching innovative ideas to local business moguls.

Sharay’s Ghana Style Brittle is owned by Yaw “Sharay” Asare, right, and Orson Fournillier. Submitted Photo

Asare and Fournillier said they benefited from mentorship, coaching and networking as a result of their participation.

“It was validation we were heading down the right path,” Fournillier said. 

Branching out
In May 2023, Asare said Gold Coast Candy added another brand to its company profile by purchasing Sweet P’s when its former owner decided to retire.

Fournillier said it made good business sense to both reduce manufacturing costs, as well as broaden the business’s offerings.

In acquiring the entire business, Fournillier said they acquired an array of toffees, caramels, truffles, nut and chocolate clusters and more.

He said their goal with these treats is to infuse African tastes into those products for sale through the Sharay’s brand, apply chocolate to Sharay’s brittles as a new offering and develop additional African-inspired treats.

“Our goal is to bring flavorful, unique-tasting, good, healthy, clean foods from our wider community to the market,” Fournillier said. “We have a few more West African candies we want to start producing and are looking at what African flavors we can embed in the caramels and toffees. The product pipeline we have laid out will take us through the next several years and will allow us to expand the Sharay’s brand.”

Statewide reach
Today, Sharay’s Ghana-Style Brittle is for sale in 20 retail locations in Green Bay, Appleton, Oshkosh, Kaukauna, Oconomowoc, Milwaukee and Madison and most recently, at two Minnesota cooperatives.

In addition to a growing number of retail sales channels and direct-to-consumer sales on the website and at events, Fournillier said the business is growing its corporate giving program.  

“Now that we don’t offer solely the brittle, but can offer these other candies as well, we intend to become more of a full-service candy company for customers,” he said. “We recognize we are two different brands, but we are working on unification of products under the Gold Coast brand.”

Though a process, the co-owners said they have successfully grown the business this far and are confident they can support continued growth through the new offerings.

Fournillier said he credits their success to having a good product, their strong partnership with complementary skill sets, supportive wives and other family members and a community that lifts them up.

“I have a business operations background and Yaw has sales (experience) and drive, so we complement each other,” he said. “I couldn’t do this on my own and neither could he.”

Asare and Fourniellier said they are currently participating in the Food Finance Institute program for food businesses, which provides training, resources, tools and mentorship.

Fournillier said it’s about understanding their business and gaining access to instruction, templates, guidance and resources to further build the brittle business.

“We are at a point of operating not merely on passion but figuring out how to structure the business so we can scale,” he said.

For a complete list of locations Sharay’s Ghana Style Brittle is available, check out

share arrow printer bookmark flag

Trending View All Trending