Joan L. Sweeting
Class of 2011
Joan L. Sweeting was born in Islip, NY, on Valentine’s Day, 1950, to Frank and Virginia Thomas. She has five siblings; Sam, Frank, Paul, Christy and Tayte. She graduated from Islip High School in 1968, and she began her 44-year career in the candy business as a part-time holiday helper for Fanny Farmer Candies while still in high school.
After a brief leave, she returned to Fanny Farmer in 1978, initially as store manager for the company’s Smith Haven location, and was soon promoted to supervisor for 15 of the company’s metro New York stores.
Joan was hired by Jack and David Grumet of Jo Ann’s Nut House and Chez Chocolat in 1981. The Grumets had just purchased the Barricini and Loft brands and felt Joan’s experience with boxed chocolates could improve the franchise. During her four years with the company, she developed more than 100 products and brought back the original recipes for Barricini Buttercrunch and Loft’s Parlays. Joan raised the division sales to more than $5 million a year before she left the company.
In 1986, Joan began her 26-year career with The Madelaine Chocolate Co., starting as an outside salesperson. Seeing her interest in manufacturing while working with her to develop seasonal novelties, then company owner Henry Kaye employed Joan to help develop, market and sell new products.
Today, Joan is Madelaine’s vice-president of sales and marketing. Leveraging her knowledge of the candy business, in 1998 she also began working with JDL, Inc., better known as Vegas Image, a distribution company specializing in gaming-themed confections for casinos. Today she is the company’s president and owner.
She says one factor in her success is passion for her work, and the people in her life who help her to pursue it. Joan married Peter Palagonia on April 2, 1989. They have four children: Ed, Adam, Michael and Jennifer, and four grandchildren.
Involved with a number of industry organizations throughout her career, Joan was one of the first members of the Retail Confectioners International Associate Members Committee. She currently serves on the National Confectioners Association’s exhibitors advisory committee and is a member of its international advisory board. She has also been a member of the Kettle Committee for more than 10 years, and was its chairperson in 1998.