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Produce Show Daily Saturday, October 19, 2019 3 2 Handmade Toffee to Go Nuts Over By Lorrie Baumann Dave's Sweet Tooth makes premium almond toffee in Michigan. Dave is, in fact, an actual person, the retired Detroit firefighter who started making toffee for his fellow firefighters during his turn at the cooking duties for the firehouse. "He'd always liked to cook and bake. Being a firefighter, you've got to cook for 20 guys at a time. They're notoriously good cooks," said Andrew Chmielewski, his son. "He just really likes the reaction that he gets with the things he makes. He just started making this toffee, and peo- ple just went nuts over it." Dave's recipe makes a softer toffee than most, chewy but not a challenge. "It doesn't stick in your teeth or break your teeth," Chmielewski said. "It's almost like a cookie texture. It's pretty good stuff." After his retirement, he passed his recipe on to his son, who'd just dropped out of college to become an entrepreneur. "I always wanted to work for myself, and when I saw the response that my dad was having to the toffee, I decided that I could always go back," said Chmielewski, whose business card now says that he's Dave's Sweet Tooth's Benevolent Oompah Loompah Overlord. "I started to make a business out of it, selling it at craft shows, at holiday events. It went from there to local stores.... People start- ed requesting it." Over the past four or five years, Dave's Sweet Tooth has grown steadily, expanding its production facility in Harrison Township, just north of Detroit, Michigan, from 5,000 square feet to 10,000 just this year. "We need the space," Chmielewski said. "It's grown faster than I could have imag- ined." The toffee is now sold in 5,000 stores across the U.S. and is moving into Canada. The toffee comes in five flavors: Coffee Toffee, Dark Chocolate, Milk Chocolate, Peanut Butter Crunch and Dark Chocolate Cherry. They all have a base of almond toffee; the Peanut Butter Crunch flavor includes almonds, milk chocolate and peanut butter chips. The Dark Chocolate Cherry flavor is made with dried cherries, almonds and dark chocolate. The company makes a few seasonal varieties for the winter holi- days: Pumpkin Spice, Gingerbread Cookie and Peppermint. A new flavor that's still under development for release next year will be made without almonds, to accommodate toffee lovers who might be allergic to nuts. "We've done some in the past with bourbon and vanilla bean," Chmielewski said. "There are so many different things you can do.... Toffee's a really fun thing to work with." While Dave used to pack his toffee in Mason jars, Dave's Sweet Tooth is packaging it in 4-ounce pouches designed to call back the image of a Mason jar. Dave's Sweet Tooth sends them out to retailers in 60-pound shippers with 12 of each of the five flavors, including a bulk sample with every ship- per for the retailer's sampling program. The toffee retails for $4.99 to $5.99 per 4-ounce bag. "If we can get it into peo- ple's mouths, it sells like crazy," Chmielewski said. "It sells like crazy in all kinds of channels, including hardware stores, gift basket companies." It's still handmade – "the same way my dad made it," said Chmielewski. As for Dave, he's still making a little toffee himself, and when one of his batches turns out particularly well, he shares the idea with his son. "He still tin- kers around with recipes in the kitchen. He still makes toffee," Chmielewski said. "It drives my mom nuts when he makes stuff at the house. She wants to get him out of her kitchen. It would be fair to say that he's still keeping his hand in the tof- fee pot with a little product develop- ment." This year, he came along with his son to the Sweets and Snacks Expo for his first time seeing the show, held in May at the McCormick Place convention center in Chicago, Illinois. "He's still amazed at how big the industry is in gen- eral. It's hard to describe to people – you just have to come," Chmielewski said. "I don't think he quite grasped it until he walked into McCormick Center and saw it. He never thought it would be as big as it's become." Natural Products Industry Alliance Pitches in for Disaster Relief By Lorrie Baumann Organic Valley and Dr. Bronner's have teamed up with United Peace Relief and Grassroots Alliance to form the Grassroots Aid Partnership with the goal of bringing natural food producers together in a formal way to provide an ongoing resource to help people who've been affected by disasters such as California's Camp Fire. That fire burned the town of Paradise, California, and killed at least 85 people, including five firefighters, last year and continues to affect survivors who still haven't found new stable housing. United Peace Relief is a nonprofit organization that provides volunteers to respond to disasters with humanitarian relief, while Grassroots Alliance is a charity organization dedicated to direct- ing resources to organizations focused on alleviating hunger in the U.S. and in dis- aster zones throughout the world. Clovis Siemon is leading the effort on behalf of Organic Valley. While his day job with the company doesn't involve natural disasters, the company stood behind him when he formed and managed a relief kitchen that fed thou- sands per day after Hurricane Katrina. Since then, Organic Valley has continued to respond. "I led Organic Valley to dis- asters, but Organic Valley has kept responding, disaster after disaster, over the last 14 years," he said. While his and Organic Valley's early efforts to provide disaster relief were ad hoc, over the past few years, the compa- ny team working on the efforts has gained organizational skills and become part of a network that works with other disaster relief organizations such as the Salvation Army and the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency to fill in the gaps to meet human needs after a disaster. Now they think they're ready to involve other natural food companies in the effort, Siemon said. "Three years ago, when Organic Valley gave to a disaster, we'd be all alone – it would be us giving directly to one 501(c)3 organization," he said. "Now we're bringing a lot more resources to the table.... we felt more comfortable inviting the rest of the indus- try in because, as a cooperative, we believe in collaboration, and because we felt confident that this is something that we can make work." The Grassroots Aid Partnership will continue to work with other organiza- tions, leaving them to take the lead in emergency response but then joining in once the gaps have made themselves felt and then continuing to help for a month or more to help rebuild the affected com- munities. "We figure out the needs and pitch in," Siemon said. "We've been building kitchens and doing distributions for years. The formation of the Grassroots Aid Partnership is to support those efforts." The new organization's focus – at least for now – is disasters within the U.S., but Siemon expects that the part- nership will begin working on an interna- tional scale within a few years, since some of the volunteers who are involved with Grassroots Aid Partnership are already also involved in international dis- aster relief efforts. "We're trying to start humbly," Siemon said. "But we're grow- ing to meet the need." While each disaster presents its own challenges, the human need for safe, healthy food is a constant, and both Organic Valley and Dr. Bronner's already had resources that they could put to work helping out in an emergency. Organic Valley has shipped dairy products into the Camp Fire area for months to help. "Dr Bronner's sends sanitation materials. Patagonia Provisions, Nancy's Yogurt, Lotus Foods, Clif Bar and others have also committed to sending goods," Siemon said. Both Dr. Bronner's and Organic Valley have mobile kitchens that are ordinarily used for event marketing, but in disasters, the companies are send- ing them out for relief efforts. "Dr. Bronner's owns a big kitchen that can feed 10,000 people a day," Siemon said. "They built the kitchen to feed people at Burning Man, but the rest of the year, it does disaster relief on request. Organic Valley has a smaller kitchen that will feed about 1,000 people a day." Sanderson Farms has also helped out when refrigeration is needed, he added. "Sanderson Farms has been very active and will often send a semi with chicken in it, and they'll leave the semi for the disaster to use," he said. "It's a great example of how we break down borders. When it comes to disasters, everyone's in it to give." The new organization has gone first to the natural foods industry as it puts together the resources to make this an ongoing effort, Siemon said. "We were well connected there.... In this time of rebuilding, it's really important to give people the healthiest foods they can have to renourish them.... We are also trying distinctly to find food companies with healthy products, but we're not picky about whether they're organic. It just happens that we started with the natural foods sector." There's also room for food retailers to get involved by cross-loading goods or lending refrigerated trucks, Siemon said. "Often we just need a parking lot to set up in," he said. "We're big fans of every- one trying to help out." For more information, visit the GAP partnership's website at www.grass rootsaidpartnership.org or email info@grassrootsaidpartnership.org. To sign up to help, email help@grassroots aidpartnership.org. Jumping Bean Coffee Signature Blends Headquartered in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, Jumping Bean is an independent premium coffee roaster and café franchise system, offering unique blends and the richest single ori- gin coffees available in market. The brand has grown exponentially in Canada and has now moved into the United States, with its 2-pound whole bean and 100-count single-serve prod- ucts now available for purchase online at www.samsclub.com. Jumping Bean selects the finest raw coffee beans from around the world, roasting them with a unique Eco2Roast ® system. This process recovers 85 percent of the heat produced during the roasting process, saving a pound of carbon per pound of coffee. In addition to this, Jumping Bean's single serve coffee pods are manufactured with 100 percent c o m p o s t a b l e materials. That's not just biodegradable – compostable means that the whole pod, ring and all, can be dropped directly into the kitchen waste or compost bin, or dropped off at a local commer- cial composting facility for easy disposal. Jumping Bean Coffee is proud to offer certified fair trade, organic, compostable products. For more information, call 709.754.4538, email jeff@jumping bean.ca or go to www.jumpingbean.ca.

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