BROWNSVILLE, Texas (ValleyCentral) — A local shop in Brownsville turned a simple candy apple hobby into a business.

Maribel Lopez, owner of Candy Apple Factory, located at 2370 Frontage Road inside the Sunrise Mall foodcourt, started her business 21 years ago after visiting a local candy apple stand in California.

(Photo by: Gerardo Salinas/ValleyCentral)

Lopez said during her trips to visit family in California, they would buy apples after running errands, return to her uncle’s house and spend time together. This is where her idea of opening her own candy apple shop was born.

After trial and error to perfect her recipe, she opened her first location on Palm Boulevard. She started off with cherry candy apples before creating her most popular flavors.

Inspired by her culture, Lopez and her mom decided to experiment and create her own recipe, introducing new flavors such as watermelon and pineapple with a kick.

“One day when I was out of town and my mom was still at it, she called me saying ‘We Got It! We Got It!,'” Lopez said.

Flavors such as spicy watermelon, spicy pineapple, Chamango, spicy lime and many others were born.

“Our community loves them, even people from San Antonio, Houston, during the holidays they come over and sometimes take up to 20 back to their homes,” Lopez said.

(Photo by: Gerardo Salinas/ValleyCentral)

Lopez finds it rewarding that many people from the community support her business. She added her goal in her business is to provide jobs, be a positive influence and help the community.

Lopez gives back to the community by helping organize fundraisers throughout the year.

“I like to help the community, our schools especially,” Lopez said. “It brings a certain joy to be able to help the schools and kids.”

What started off as a trial and error, turned into a beloved candy apple business that has expanded to other treats. In 2023, the Candy Apple Factory was ranked platinum in the chocolate shop category by Brownsville Community Votes.

Gerardo Salinas and Gabriela Gonzalez contributed to this story.