It started with love.
Dayton Comestibles Corn Whiskey Mustard started with a Valentine’s Day surprise. I’m Kathleen, and I created our flagship product with my wonderful husband, Kaden. On the Saturday before V-Day, I bundled him into the car, mysteriously refusing to tell him our final destination—a surprise tour and tasting at the Indian Creek Distillery located in Miami County, Ohio. As a rye whiskey aficionado, I knew he would love it—and he did! (We both did. The place is a literally a national treasure—home to the oldest operating copper pot stills in America, handmade in 1820.)
Kaden and I love to cook together, and we’ve been making our own condiments from scratch for some time, including ketchup, mustard, pickles, preserves, relishes, etc. After sampling Indian Creek’s whiskeys, we knew we had to find a way to incorporate them in our condiment collection! They’re the best whiskeys we’ve ever tasted.
Then we added whiskey.
Within two weeks after our distillery tour, we had created two flavors of mustard built around Indian Creek products. We took samples out to share with Joe and Missy Duer, the sixth-generation owners of Indian Creek Distillery. They (and their family) really enjoyed them, and encouraged us to develop the mustards into a commercial product. The mustard also got rave reviews from line cook Big Mike from Ollie’s Place, a whiskey bar and restaurant in Centerville, OH. (We met Big Mike on the distillery tour, and when he heard our plans to inject whiskey into burger fixings, he made us promise to share our prototypes with the folks at Ollie’s.)
By mid-March of 2016 we were seriously researching Ohio’s cottage food laws and other local regulations. Indian Creek Distillery wanted to sell the mustard, and Ollie’s Place wanted to use Dayton Comestibles Corn Whiskey Mustard in their restaurant! Friends and family were clamoring for mustard, and we wanted to sell it to them! But we were dismayed to discover that it wouldn’t be possible for us to legally make mustard at home for retail sale. We would have to go through a lengthy and expensive process sell our slice of mustardy heaven to the public. It was about that time that Missy told us about the Ohio Signature Food Contest sponsored by the Ohio Farm Bureau and the Center for Innovative Food Technology. I had a feeling that Dayton Comestibles Corn Whiskey Mustard was exactly the kind of product they were looking for, and we decided to enter.
Then it all went up in smoke.
Just a few weeks later, all our plans went up in smoke—along with our ingredients we had set aside to make a test batch of the mustard in a commercial kitchen. At about 10:30 p.m. on the night of April 18th, an arsonist set fire to our garage. Within about a minute, the deck was on fire, and two minutes after that, the back of the house was in flames. The Dayton Fire Department was on the scene in less than five minutes, but by then, nearly $100,000 in damage had been done and our garage and everything in it was a total loss. The kitchen and everything in it was water-damaged or smoke-damaged, my home office was smoke-damaged, and the fire had burned through the power line to the house. We didn’t get the power back on for nearly a month. We didn’t get our kitchen functioning again until mid-August of 2016.
We celebrated our first wedding anniversary on July 4th with an overnight trip to Gatlinburg, TN, thanks to a lovely gift from a friend. It was the first night since the fire that we spent away from home, in a place that didn’t smell like smoke.
In early July we learned that Dayton Comestibles Corn Whiskey Mustard was a finalist in the Ohio Signature Food Contest! I screamed and cried when I got the call. We were shocked—stunned! Especially because we still didn’t have a kitchen! Luckily, our insurance company paid for an extended-stay hotel room with a micro-kitchenette, and that’s where we made our samples for the judges. I presented our product and our story to a “Shark Tank”-style panel of food experts in mid-July at the Northwest Ohio Cooperative Kitchen. Kaden had to stay home to oversee three different construction crews working on the house at the time.
Then we won!
On August 2, 2016, Dayton Comestibles Corn Whiskey Mustard was announced as a winner of the Ohio Signature Food Contest at the Ohio State Fair. We could not believe that despite all odds, our product had been picked as a winner from among nearly a hundred other great Ohio food products.
This fall, we’ve been going through the steep learning curve that is involved with launching a new food product. We’re so grateful to Paula Ray from the Northwest Ohio Cooperative Kitchen for all her help as we navigate the regulatory maze. We’ve been sourcing ingredients, jars, and labels. I’ve launched social media accounts and started this website. We’ve talked to a couple of big-name retailers who may want to stock the product, and several specialty stores. At least four restaurants want to put Dayton Comestibles Corn Whiskey Mustard on the menu.
The rest of the story is up to you.
I’m writing this in mid-December, 2016, and we’re thankful that we’re almost recovered from the fire. Our next step is to raise the money we need to create our first large-scale test batch of the product. We plan to launch a Kickstarter campaign by the end of the year, so join our mailing list to get first notice. If there’s enough support out there for this fabulous (she said modestly) condiment, we’ll be in the mustard business in just a few short weeks!