Candy Man “Zippo”

Candy Man “Zippo”

By: Diana Viscusi


One night at the restaurant I work at, I had a happy experience that made my day a little bit better. Donald Edward Winder, or "Zippo man", as people call him, visits every single restaurant at the Oceanfront and gives away one candy at a time. He started a movement to share candy with people working in service industries such as subs, clubs and late night bars. Usually, the younger generation hangs out at the nightclubs, while this great man shares his story without any words and visits people who have had a bad day, despite them being total strangers. I had a chance to interview him. I was working that night, but it did not stop my curiosity about him. I saw him all the time around the Oceanfront. I asked him: “What is the story behind the candy?" It started while back; he stopped at Rite Aid one night, which used to be located at 31st street, on his way to the Old Jewish Mother to get something to eat. He was carrying a Rite Aid bag with candies, and some of the waitresses were asking for some. He started going around the businesses with a little bag and he started passing candies around to all the wait staff.


He loves the music and the people. All of the musicians love this guy, and have given him CDs with their music. One of the special ones he has was from Jesse Chong, where he signed on the CD “ Zippo, words can't express the poetry that your presence could make. All the things you have done, there are no words to express.”


He carries a little cooler with him full of different candies, just like people. One candy changes one person at a time.

He has a special gift to give, which is happiness to people and sharing his love with others. People have been walking up to him and telling him that they start smiling when they see him. Everybody loves him even now. He turned seventy this year. His nickname Zippo started in Vietnam and carried to today. He was a medical record employee of Norfolk General Hospital. He could find everything in medical records.  He has done a lot of different jobs since then.

In this whole story, I found out that he is good at understanding people and helping the people around him. He said, “It is not about the candy, it is about the happiness that's so easy to share.”

He had a fortune cookie that changed his whole perspective on life:

“You have it easily within your power to increase some total of the world's happiness.”

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