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Gateshead’s tiny store goes viral on TikTok after Florida zoo keeper gave animals candy

Tiktok, fried egg candies and a tropical bear called a kinkajou. You might think these three things have little to do with each other.

But in the case of Simon Nova, from Gateshead, they helped skyrocket his autistic-run small business after unexpected viral video fame.

The 33-year-old has taken to social media to market his business, with a presence on Instagram, Twitter and TikTok.

READ MORE: Star Wars, Harry Potter and Game of Thrones stars meet hundreds of fans at Gateshead Comic Con

One day Simon was browsing TikTok when he came across a video of an American woman giving candy to a tropical bear called a kinkajou. Kinkajous, also known as “honey bears”, are native to the rainforests of Central and South America. With a diet consisting primarily of high-sugar fruits, kinkajous are the only ones capable of digesting sweets.

Simon messaged Alex, Kinkatopia’s main zookeeper in Boca Raton, Florida, asking if he could send some British candy to the kinkajous. He said: “I didn’t expect anything. I just thought it would be nice to see them eat my candy.

Bonnebon Confectionery Co candy jars

He sent a box of his products to Florida, and one morning a few weeks later, Simon woke up to 1,600 notifications.

More than 3 million people viewed the original three-minute TikTok posted on the Kinkatopia page. Suddenly, Simon’s small business in Gateshead was attracting worldwide attention.

You can watch the TikTok here

Before becoming a viral sensation, Simon received a handful of orders a month and only offered to ship to the UK. Suddenly, requests were pouring in from potential customers in America and as far away as the United Arab Emirates.

Simon began planning how he would grow his business from the backroom of his home to shipping around the world.

The Bonbon Confectionery
The Bonbon Confectionery

The Bonnebon Confectionery Co. is now doing ten times more business than before, and Simon has made running his online business a full-time job.

As an autistic person, Simon found the typical nine-to-five job difficult. He said: “There’s a stigma around autism, I’m a normal person, I just have different little sons upstairs.

“Doing this job has allowed me to do something that I’m good at and can make my own schedule. Although I may be behind my peers in life achievements, it gives me the opportunity to have the same quality of life as them.

Simon is open on his company’s social media about how his autism affects his daily life as a business owner. He says it was really difficult at first to be so outspoken about his life, especially overcoming worries about how people online might scrutinize him.

However, social media put Simon in front of an overwhelmingly supportive audience. He regularly receives messages from autistic people and parents of autistic children who say following Simon’s success gives them hope for the future.

Simon credits Alex from Kinkatopia for the boost his videos have given his online business, as well as his e-commerce platform, EKM, for helping him scale his business to meet the accompanying demand. becoming a viral sensation overnight.

You can support Simon and The Bonnebon Confectionery Co. by visiting

Do you have any trending TikTok videos? Share them in the comments below!