The Unexpected Story Behind Tummy-Yum Yum’s Gourmet Candy Apples

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By Mia Brabham

Sharita Rouse was sitting at her desk one day and told her coworker Katie that she needed to find something else to do.

“I heard God speak to me clearly and say ‘Make candy apples,’” she said. Rouse had never made a candy apple before in her life. “I started laughing because I was like, ‘Okay, this really must be God, because I can’t make candy apples.”

As a person of faith, she felt that if God told her to do something and she did it, she would be successful. That night she went home, talked to her husband about it, and made a Facebook post saying “Coming Fall 2017, Tummy-Yum Yum Gourmet Candy Apples.”

“God gave me the name and everything,” Rouse said.

The next morning, she woke up to eight orders. She went to the grocery store to get the materials and stayed up until 2 a.m. learning how to make these candy apple confections on YouTube.

“I burned bowls, my stove caught on fire,” Rouse laughed. “It was terrible!” She made a few apples every day until she perfected her craft. “That’s how Tummy-Yum Yum was born — in my home with 253 dollars,” Rouse said.

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S’mores Apple

She and her husband turned their kitchen and sunroom into a manufacturing area, and Rouse began making anywhere between 800 to 1,000 apples a month. “I couldn’t believe my hand crafted apples,” she said.

How the Business Grew

Rouse began getting more and more orders. Her business was only a hobby at this point, but she had a nagging feeling that she needed to leave her full-time oral surgery job after a tragic loss occurred at the company.

“The Lord spoke to me and said ‘The longer you stay here, the worse it’s going to get.’ But I was loyal to my boss,” she said.

Rouse struggled with the decision, and when she finally worked up the courage to turn in a letter of resignation, her boss asked her to stay two weeks longer. Two weeks turned to a month, and she had to make the tough decision to walk out on the job.

“On the way out he said to me, ‘Whenever your business fails, you can always come back.’ I thought about that, but that’s what made me work harder and harder. I never want to go back to anyone who would treat me or talk to me like that,” said Rouse.

Since that moment in 2018, Sharita hasn’t looked back. “God kept providing and providing,” she said.

Tummy-Yum Yum Today

Tummy-Yum Yum is now a full-fledged business and storefront that brings the joy of homemade, gourmet candy apples and creative treats to Manassas and beyond. The treats come in more than 50 flavors — from Caramel Delight and M&M Extravaganza to Vegan Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt Caramel.

Rouse calls herself a visionary owner. “Everything I do, I have to see it in my mind first. I’m a very visual person. People eat with their eyes before anything,” she shared.

Rouse began selling her apples at the Manassas Farmers Market, and business took off. Before she knew it, she was asked to be a vendor at New York’s 2018 Harlem Fashion Week. “The Snickers Delight is the crowd favorite. It’s a Granny Smith apple with caramel, pecans, milk chocolate and white chocolate. That’s my go-to. Even when I’m travelling, I save one for myself!” she said.

Tummy-Yum Yum offers all types of colors and flavors; Rouse even does edible gold. The business is always growing, evolving and expanding. “Everybody don’t like candy apples, so you have to come up with something else that people will like to stay in business,” she said.

Rouse has since added Turtle Delight Gourmet Pears, Chocolate Covered Strawberries and different flavored hot chocolate Coco Bombs to the menu.

Serving Others

While she is constantly adjusting and thinking up new ideas for her business, she’s also very focused on community. One winter night a year after her business started and less than two months after she moved her business to its first brick and mortar storefront, someone knocked on her window while she was working. “He said, ‘Hey, I just got out of jail. I don’t know what kind of shop this is, but do you have anything to eat?’” Rouse gladly used what she had in the shop and gave him soup, water and coffee. This was after she had only made $11 that day. “To see the smile on his face, I knew I had to continue to do
this,” she said.

This is how Rouse started feeding the community. Every week, Tuesdays through Fridays, Tummy-Yum Yum feeds anyone who asks with a hot meal and cold drink — no questions asked. “I’ve been feeding people since 2018. I moved to the shop in October, and I started feeding people in December,” she said.

Rouse confesses that some people in the community are angry she does this. To this, she powerfully replies, “I’m not here to be liked, I’m here to serve.”

Tummy-Yum Yum recently received a letter of recognition from Senator Mark Warner for the business’s service to the public amidst the coronavirus pandemic. “That is why God put me here in Manassas. If I don’t make any money in a day, and I serve people, that’s my purpose for being here,” said Rouse.

Rouse has booked a public pavilion on June 19, 2021, to put on a community block party to give back to the community even more — and more specifically — to the children of Manassas. “We had so many kids come for food last summer, I couldn’t keep up. I want to feed about 500 families,” she said. “I want these kids to know the city of Manassas is here for them. I want the whole community to be involved, because I can’t do it by myself,” said Rouse.

Rouse plans to have businesses outside on the pavilion, like social services, churches and the police departments to share information and resources for those in need of assistance. “We’re trying to do things separately, but that’s not what a community is. I want to see everyone come together,” Rouse said.

Tummy Yum Yum is located at 9119 Church Street in Manassas, and is open for online ordering, shipping and pick up. They also do catering services for weddings, birthdays, bridal parties and every other type of event you can think up. Visit tummy-yumyum.com for more information.

Rouse also welcomes donations for feeding the hungry. If you are interested in volunteering or being an entertainer or vendor for the Kid’s Block Party this June, email tummyyumyumgc@gmail.com or call 571-208-2870.

Mia Brabham is a writer, speaker and digital personality with a love for people and hearty conversation. Her debut book, Note to Self, is a collection of personal lessons and quotes that was recently released as an Amazon top seller and is in the hands of readers all over the world. Reach her at mbrabham@princewilliamliving.com

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