Once upon a time a West Point Officer and an MBA bought a candy company in Old Louisville and lived happily ever after.
No, seriously. They did…and it’s amazing.
Krist and Amity Thodoropoulos are high school sweethearts, nearly 20 years into a marriage that has taken them literally all over the world. Krist’s Army career allowed them to experience life in other cultures, learn other languages, and grow together through each move. Now, he is retired from the service and Amity’s keen business sense is leading them in their next life adventure as chocolatiers.
Krist and Amity moved to Louisville when Krist was on a brief assignment at Ft. Knox. They chose to live in Old Louisville and bought a historic home as an investment property that they envisioned working for them even after they had to move away. Frequent moves had taught them to dive in quick and make the most of every minute in a new place, so Amity connected to the Ghost Walk as a volunteer and met the director, Ron, a connection that would change the course of both their lives in sweet surprising ways.
Ron Harris and his wife Jane had created Happy Balls! handmade Kentucky bourbon candy over a decade before and were balancing the demands of the successful business as well as various health challenges and community commitments at that time. After their meeting Amity felt moved to help them out in some way, so she gave them a call one Friday and offered a hand. Ron took that hand and put her to work making candy. Fridays in the Harris’ third floor kitchen became routine and eventually Amity became part of the Happy Balls! family.
Krist had already accepted his next assignment, which would relocate them to Europe, following a period of training in Washington, D.C. A few weeks into that training time, Ron and Jane called Amity and said that they had reached the place where the business was too much for them to keep up with and they wanted her and Krist to take over and buy the business. It was the worst possible timing, but somehow Amity knew they couldn’t pass it up. So they negotiated a contract where, for three years, she would fly back to Louisville three times a year for one week each time to help with the busy seasons of St. James, Christmas, and Derby, and eventually Amity and Krist would buy the business and take over full time in August of 2018.
Their friends and family didn’t quite believe them when they announced their next professional endeavor following Krist’s exit from the military. Amity and Krist could hardly believe it themselves. But, they went all in and took over the treasured family business with intent to honor the legacy and take the brand to the next level.
Over her time working with Ron and Jane, Amity had learned the story of Aunt Happy’s bourbon balls inspiring the company’s start, how it had become a hallmark of the St. James Court Art Show weekend, and how the brand was closely tied to so many people in the Louisville area. They take great pride in their balls and took it upon themselves to get more people on board.
Amity and Krist have their own candy kitchen on the second floor of the Old Louisville home that they returned to after their time in Europe. They’re renovating the living space and have converted the third floor into a full time AirBnb. Candy making experiences are also an AirBnb offering both for their guests and for others, even locals, who want to get in on the fun. They let me dip a few balls to take home and it was a blast!
The traditional recipe for Happy Balls! uses Knob Creek bourbon from Jim Beam, selected through extensive taste testing by the 1300 block of 3rd street neighborhood association when Ron and Jane were first getting started. Today, they make specialty Happy Balls! featuring Elijah Craig and hope to do more custom products for individual distillery brands, too. They also like experimenting and have made tequila balls, salty balls and more! There’s even rumor of a new product coming to market for this holiday season. (Okay, it’s not a rumor, I tasted the toffee bark and you’re definitely going to want to buy some.)
They don’t claim to be the best bourbon balls around, because they don’t want to compete with your grandma, but they are the best on the market. Just like the founders, you want to support the brand not just because the product is delicious, but because the people behind it love what they do and want to bring joy to people’s lives through the fun and flavor of the product. So, grab some Happy Balls! this weekend at the St. James Court Art Show and join in a Louisville tradition that we hope to see grow beyond everyone’s wildest dreams!
You can order Happy Balls! online HERE year-round! They ship freshly made balls for each order, never stockpiling inventory. The buttercream always tastes like it just came out of the mixer…because it did! You can also find Happy Balls! at retailers throughout the state. Check out the full store list HERE. Follow on Facebook and Instagram for the latest news on their balls!