People Staff
April 16, 1984 12:00 PM

For everyone rushing to meet this week’s income tax deadline, a financial crunch needs no explanation. But three young entrepreneurs from Michigan have been marketing a Financial Crunch that at least pays dividends to your sweet tooth. A three-quarter-ounce disk of milk chocolate and crisped rice, with a bite taken out, the Financial Crunch novelty-candy coin tastes like an ordinary Nestlé Crunch bar but is priced at a gilded $12 for a box containing “A Banker’s Dozen, Eleven Pieces of Short Change.”

“It’s the perfect gift for a secretary to give a boss,” contends co-inventor Lisa Howenstein, “but only after she’s got the raise.” Lisa, 22, a New York model, grew up in Grosse Pointe with Tom Matthews, 25, an ad agency intern, and Jay Hunter, 26, a real estate accountant. The trio had long wanted to start a business. The problem was, what kind? Last Memorial Day weekend Lisa uttered the words “financial crunch.” Zounds! “We had the name,” says Jay, “but not the product.”

Anteing up $1,000 each, they were quickly smitten by the bitten-out-chocolate gimmick. (“Bite Back, It’s Time to Get Even With Your Losses!” reads the eye-catching green-and-gold box.) “We pooled our resources, which weren’t much,” says Lisa. “We went to a lot of chocolate companies,” adds Jay, “but none would take us seriously until we put on coats and ties.” Another problem was the design. “Our first George Washington looked like Richard Nixon with a wig,” says Tom of the Presidential likeness on each coin.

By November they were selling store-to-store. Though they had 1,500 boxes, they could afford to fill only 500 at first; sales rose and now total $40,000. “This has been a short course in Business Management 101,” says Tom. Boasting orders from such heavies as Macy’s and Marshall Field these days, Financial Crunch now seems sound as a dollar.

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