A Cape Breton entrepreneur never imagined her sweet treats would bring her closer to the late Tom Petty.

It was at a Petty concert in Halifax in May 2012 when chocolatier Jill Franklin made sure the first-ever batch of her new sea salt caramel chocolates made their way backstage.

The next morning, she woke up to an email from Petty's stage manager.

"Saying, 'Jill, Tom, his wife and the band loved the chocolates,'” Franklin says. “Oh, I was over the moon."

But that wasn't all. A couple of weeks later, a signed picture arrived in the mail.

"The inscription says, 'To Jill, thanks for the chocolates – Tom Petty,'" says Franklin.

Franklin had always considered Tom Petty her favourite rocker, but she says the gesture only solidified her admiration for him.

"It just said, 'Yeah, he is that person that I've been listening to.' It made him so real to me," she says.

It was a connection she has felt strongly about right up to Petty's sudden passing earlier this week.

"I just burst into tears," says Franklin.

Since Petty's death, his picture has stayed at Franklin's side, making the one-hour trip with her from her shop in Iona to her stand at the cruise terminal in Sydney.

"It's mine, it's an original, and I just need to have it close to me."

Franklin says Tom Petty is why she decided to keep making more of the chocolates. Their sales are now raising thousands for the Treasures of Youth fund, benefiting local children who want to pursue music.

"I have a lot to be thankful for to him,” says Franklin. “One, people love this box of chocolates. But two, we've raised over $9,000."

Franklin says she hasn’t stopped listening to Petty’s music since his passing. 

"I'm so happy I have his music."

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Ryan MacDonald.