CHEYENNE, Wyo. — At Rocket Snacks, candy lovers can buy their favorite treats — including Skittles, M&M’s and peppermints — with a cool twist.
All of the moisture in the candies are removed by a special freeze-drying machine, resulting in a satisfyingly sweet and extremely crunchy snack.
Debbie “Deb” and Ed Reynolds are the owners of Rocket Snacks, a small business dedicated to sharing the freeze-dried candy and fruit experience with the Cheyenne community.
“There are a lot of people who have never tried it,” Deb said. “It’s fun to watch their reactions when the candy melts in their mouths.”
With more than 30 options to choose from, the $8 treats range from sour Jolly Ranchers to crispy apple slices. Some items feature unique space-themed names like “Moon Rocks,” which are sliced freeze-dried Twinkies, and “Galaxy Bombs,” which are wispy clusters of Nerds candy.
The products can be purchased at various Cheyenne locations, including the downtown shop 307 Made or the Frontier Trampoline Park’s snack bar. Occasionally, the husband and wife duo sells them at local craft fairs and farmer’s markets.
The Reynolds launched Rocket Snacks in October 2022 after receiving encouragement from one of Deb’s close friends, who used to make and sell freeze-dried products in Cheyenne.
After being diagnosed with cancer last year, Deb’s friend moved to Utah for treatment and to be with her family.
“[Before leaving] she said that the niche was there, why not start our own business?” Ed said. “So we did.”
The process wasn’t a smooth flight.
Neither Deb nor Ed had experience running a freeze-dried candy business at the time. Deb used to work in electronic manufacturing while Ed operated in the automotive industry.
One of the biggest learning curves was figuring out how to properly use a freeze-drying machine.
“I messed up a lot of stuff, made it so there is nothing edible about it,” Ed said. “It was a learning process, a lot of trial and error.”
After undergoing countless candy experiments and watching freeze-drying instruction videos, the Reynolds eventually figured out how to create their trademark snacks.
New batches of dried candies and fruit are made and packaged each week at the Reynolds’ home. Their two Harvest Right freeze-drying machines run 24/7. It takes 24 hours for the candies to dry and anywhere from 24 to 80 hours for the fruits.
Ed’s favorite items are the bright yellow Lemonheads, which have a tart and tangy flavor, while Deb prefers the natural sweetness of the pale dried apple slices.
A fan favorite is the freeze-dried Skittles. Unlike store-bought Skittles, the chewy white inside filling is puffed up and sandwiched in between the thin multicolored shells.
“A lot of the time they open the bag and it doesn’t get to the car before it’s gone,” Ed said.
The Reynolds said the best part about running Rocket Snacks is meeting new customers and other small business owners. They also appreciate getting to work from home and setting their own schedule.
Another bonus, Deb said, is being constantly surrounded by candy.
“I’ve become a freeze-dried candy snob,” she said. “I don’t like regular candy anymore, I only like freeze-dried.”