Chocolates from North Andover included in VIP gifts at The Oscars

Melissa DiMinico (left) and Shauna Iannuzzi.
Melissa DiMinico (left) and Shauna Iannuzzi.

Amid the pomp and circumstance surrounding the Oscars Sunday night, a local sweets company is getting its big Hollywood break.

More than a dozen Academy Awards guests who checked into their VIP suites in a Beverly Hills hotel received a bottle of champagne paired with a box of caramels, hand-dipped in milk and dark chocolate with a delicate gold shimmer spray and sprinkle of gold salt from The Candy Dish, a two-woman outfit in North Andover.

“The opportunity is overwhelming,” said cofounder Melissa DiMinico. “We’re just so happy.”

The road to the Oscars for DiMinico, 36, and her chocolatier partner Shauna Iannuzzi, 27, has been a serendipitous one and only a year and a half in the making.


DiMinico and Iannuzzi — who is engaged to DiMinico’s cousin — bonded over their love of baking. Chats about sweets turned into serious discussions about starting a business together. DiMinico quit her job in finance and Iannuzzi hers at a chocolate shop, and together they launched The Candy Dish.

In the short amount of time they’ve been in business, the two have done numerous private events and partnered with a couple of bakeries as well as Legal Harborside on Boston’s Waterfront to sell their creations.

Last September, DiMinico got an unexpected message on Facebook from a friend she hadn’t seen since their time at Stoneham High School. Tarrah Lee Curtis runs an events planning firm in Los Angeles representing a company that happens to be involved in preparations for the Academy Awards.

“She said, ‘I would love for them to try some of your chocolates,’ ” DiMinico recalled.

After enlisting the help of Soirée, Andover to create elaborate, glamorous packaging, DiMinico and Iannuzzi mailed to company executives some samples of their g ilded chocolate-dipped caramels and Oreo cookies dipped in chocolate, designed to look like tuxedos and gowns.


The boxes contain a total of six caramels, hand-dipped in milk and dark chocolate and decorated with gold shimmer spray and gold salt.
The boxes contain a total of six caramels, hand-dipped in milk and dark chocolate and decorated with gold shimmer spray and gold salt.(handout)

There were a couple of months of discussions about chocolate types, decorations, and packaging, but no final decision. The waiting got even more excruciating in November, when Curtis’s company turned its attention away from Oscars planning to the red carpet premiere of “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1.”

Finally around Christmas, DiMinico and Iannuzzi got the news they were waiting for: The Candy Dish’s caramels would be included in the VIP suites of high-level industry executives. Curtis also expressed interest in using the local company for other events, DiMinico said.

“It was well worth the wait,” she said. “Last year they used a national, well-known [desserts] company and now they’re using a two-woman team.”

On Feb. 12, DiMinico mailed 15 boxes, each containing an assortment of six milk and dark chocolate caramels. She said she doesn’t know who the VIPs are, but she will be looking out for any mention of The Candy Dish or pictures posted on social media this weekend. A self-proclaimed “red carpet junkie,” DiMinico said she’ll also be watching the show Sunday night.

“It’s truly been the highlight thus far of this entire journey. We’re really excited,” DiMinico said. “People are interested now in trying those Oscars chocolates.”

The Oscars air at 7 p.m. Sunday on ABC.

Katheleen Conti can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @GlobeKConti.