The mother of inventions
GREAT RIVER—Several years ago, Debbie Frasca had a great idea to develop a device that would make it a lot easier – especially for children – to eat an apple. After developing a prototype in her backyard workshop and doing some research, Frasca’s invention is now available for purchase online and in some stores. And since autumn – the season of apples – is now upon us, her Handy-Apple product will be coming to a harvest fair near you.
The Handy-Apple consists of two prongs that are placed at either end of an apple and affixed with a rubbery, chucky child-safe holder. The device allows the holder to consume the apple without getting their hands soiled… and works great for caramel and candy apples, too.
The Great River resident is no stranger to invention, though. Frasca, who grew up in Montauk, is the owner of Out of the Woods Creations and has been making decorative wood signs that are sold in gift and novelty stores in Islip Town. “Most people know me by my signs,” she said.
But then when the mother of three’s youngest child, Nick, was 5, she thought of something else. She began searching for something that would help him better hold on to an apple. “I looked on the internet, but couldn’t find anything,” she said. “So I went to my workshop and came up with this. But then I put it on the back burner.”
After a hiatus, she decided to begin the patenting process. She looked for guidance in “The Mom Invention Handbook” and found a facilitator in Kennebunkport, Me. Justin Aiello Designs created the drawings and contacted a patent attorney to secure her invention. He also had connections to a manufacturing plant in China.
“I would have preferred this to be made in the United States, but…,” Frasca said.
The first shipment of Handy-Apple arrived in October 2016. And just as she was about to begin promoting the product, Nick was in a serious accident.
“His spine was bruised on a trampoline,” Frasca explained. “He was in the hospital for a month.” The family was also in the process of moving to their current home at that time.
After Nick recuperated and the family was settled into their new home, Frasca’s older daughter Megan began helping her mom to promote the Handy-Apple. Applying some of the skills she learned about marketing while in college,
Megan began placing it on social media. “We joined forces and got pretty far,” Megan said.
Then, a remarkable thing happened. In May 2017, “The Steve Harvey Show” contacted Frasca and Megan after finding a promotion for the product on Instagram.
“They flew us to Chicago,” Frasca remarked. The product was also being considered for another TV show, “Shark Tank,” but ultimately was not asked to compete. However, Frasca said she was encouraged by the show’s producers to reapply for consideration next year. “Everything happens for a reason,” she said. ”You just don’t give up on your dreams.”
Even with some national coverage, Frasca has been working hard to get the word out about it by attending street fairs, and she’ll be at upcoming harvest festivals. “It’s slowly getting out there,” she added.
Nick, sporting a shirt and hat with the product logo, seemed very excited about it all as he bit into an apple while holding the device. “I never liked my hands getting sticky,” he said.
“Kids like gadgets just as much as adults do,” Frasca said. “This is a fun way to eat a healthy snack,” she said.
But in addition to kids, the inventor said that the device would be helpful to older adults with arthritis, and people with other disabilities, too. “The Handy-Apple is for everybody.”
“It’ll be cool to see its full potential,” Megan added. “We really feel this is going somewhere.”
Handy-Apple can be purchased at Nook and Cranny in Islip, Kitchen Kaberet in Bay Shore, on Amazon and at Handy-Apple.com. Look for Frasca’s booth at the upcoming Apple Festival at the Islip Grange in Sayville on Saturday, Oct. 21.
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