Patrizio’s Gourmet Italian Brittle doesn’t stick to your teeth, its inventor claims, but now Patrick Tracy is grappling with how to get his confection to stick with the local market.
Tracy is a former oil rig worker, one-time Navy sailor, lifelong candy hobbyist and tireless pitchman. He five months ago moved here from Daytona Beach, hoping to find an outlet for the peanut brittles he sold at flea markets and craft shows in Florida.
“By God’s mercy and my God-given talent, I’ve figured out a way to make peanut brittle that doesn’t stick to your teeth,” Tracy, 59, says. “I would say, literally, without being pompous about it, 75 percent of people who tried a sample would be buyers.”
The confection dates back to 1985, when Tracy was working as a cook on a rig 200 miles off the Louisiana coast. Tracy made a batch of brittle for dessert, and one of the workers remarked that it didn’t gum up his dental work. His offhand comment impelled Tracy to spend the next few months trying to figure out what he’d done, and whether he could do it again.
Although Tracy won’t reveal his brittle’s no-stick secret, it’s now available in chocolate, cashew, maple walnut, maple pecan and pistachio varieties. He doesn’t make much pistachio brittle, because the nuts are so costly, but considers it among his tastiest achievements: “I couldn’t keep it on the table,” he says.
When Tracy talks about his vision for the brittle’s future, he’s prone to drop names of national restaurant chains (and, closer to home, Hyman’s.) But his business model in Florida was built around a folding table and Ziploc bags. He’s looking to bring the same set-up to Charleston area markets, but he’s currently stymied by his lack of inventory. Without access to a commercial kitchen, he can’t manufacture brittle for sale.
“I don’t need a big walk-in cooler,” he clarifies. “All I need is a stove top and pots and a counter to put my sheet pans on.”
Tracy’s now in kitchen rental talks with a local church. He’s confident Charleston eaters will see him hawking his candy this summer.
“Once I get it off the ground, it’s really going to take off,” he says. “There’s so much potential here.”