What Dayton Comestibles Accomplished in 2016

What a year it has been for our new whiskey mustard business! Here’s the short-attention-span list of our 2016 accomplishments:

  • Decided that our friends weren’t just being nice–this really is commercially viable!
  • Developed a business plan
  • Tested and refined recipes
  • Launched this website
  • Launched social media accounts
  • Shared the product with numerous taste testers
  • Identified four restaurants who want the product
  • Entered and won the Ohio Signature Food Contest
  • Sourced ingredients
  • Received our Process Authority Letter
  • Completed our Nutritional Analysis
  • Sourced and tested packaging
  • Designed our preliminary label
  • Created a pricing structure
  • Met with several co-packers
  • Toured two culinary incubator facilities
  • Identified five retailers who want the product
  • Participated in 2 consumer focus groups
  • Drafted a Kickstarter fundraising campaign

And here’s the essay portion of this post.

January, 2016 – “You should sell this.”

We started 2016 by sharing our homemade mustards with friends at our annual Christmas Nuts party. Christmas Nuts is either a club or a support group (we’re not sure) that Kat has been a member of for going on 15 years. It’s five couples, all of whom originally lived in Dayton Ohio’s South Park Historic District. We all own and/or collect startling quantities of antique and vintage Christmas ornaments and decorations. It’s usually the one time of year we can all get together and enjoy our Christmas obsessions, so we go all-out in feeding and entertaining each other at our annual gathering (which is held in January so we can shop all the after-Christmas sales). In 2016, the Nuts each received jars of our mustards, jelly and pickles, and they were the first to tell us that our mustard was good enough to sell. (But we thought they were just being nice.)

Kaden at Indian Creek Distillery in February, 2016

Kathleen and Kaden visited a local craft distillery in February of 2016 for the first time.

February, 2016 – “I love you.”

In February, I surprised Kaden with a Valentine’s trip to a local craft distillery…and soon after, we started injecting their fabulous rye and corn whiskey into everything we were making. We got great feedback from the distillery owners, and other folks in the food business, so over the next couple of months we started to get serious about creating a real commercial product for sale to live humans. Much daunting research ensued, and we discovered that we couldn’t legally make mustard at home and sell it to the public. We decided to move forward anyway, and bring our mustard to market as a commercial product. We refined our recipes, shared the whiskey mustard with more friends and family, and got more encouragement and feedback from the fine folks at Indian Creek Distillery.

April, 2016 – “911”

The view of the back of the house from behind the garage after the fire.

Then, in April, our garage was targeted by a neighborhood arsonist. The fire totally destroyed the garage and everything in it, the deck, and extensively damaged the back of the house. All told, there was nearly $100,000 in damage to structures and contents. Luckily, Kaden escaped with only second-degree burns (we both inhaled a lot of smoke). We didn’t have electricity for a month, and our kitchen was out of commission until mid-August. We camped in our house for four months, with only a 2-week supply of clothes and bedding (the rest was at the fire restoration company).

May – July, 2016 “Congratulations!”

In the midst of all the fire recovery, Kat entered and won the Ohio Signature Food Contest. The contest—sponsored by the Center for Innovative Food Technology and the Ohio Farm Bureau–was created to promote new Ohio-based products. Kat received the award on a sweltering day at the Ohio State Fair…and returned home to a house that was still under construction. There was a ton of publicity…and immediately thereafter, folks started showing up at the distillery to buy the mustard that doesn’t officially exist yet!

May – November, 2016 “Sorry, you’re acidified.”

Kathleen Hanover of Dayton Comestibles and Rebecca Singer of CIFT

Kathleen Hanover, left, of Dayton Comestibles and Rebecca Singer of the Center for Innovative Food Technologies at the Ohio State Fair

Since August, we’ve been slowly getting our house and lives back together, and Kathleen has been focused on her day job as marketing and PR consultant and public speaker. Kaden has focused on creating a new piece of his ambient noise music every single day. When we’re not involved in fire recovery, Kat has been reading and researching and learning about everything it takes to launch a new “acidified” food product in America. (The food scientist says the mustard is an “acidified” product, which balloons the complexity of launching it, and the amount of regulation and paperwork involved.) And the learning curve is STEEP! We’re getting great advice and valuable services from the Agricultural Incubator Foundation and CIFT in Bowling Green, Ohio. Kat has been working on identifying retail outlets, food service (restaurant) customers, distributors and wholesalers. She has also been all over the marketing and PR and social media aspects of launching a new business.

Christmas, 2016 “Hold, please!”

We were hoping to have mustard available to the public by Christmas of 2016, but it turns out that recovering from a fire is a full-time job, so we’re a bit behind where we would prefer to be. Back in November, we announced that Dayton Comestibles’ lovely whiskey-drenched mustard was coming to Kickstarter in December. And now you’re wondering…what the heck’s going on? Why won’t we take your money? I assure you, we can’t wait to take your money…but first, we have to work through a trademark issue with the name of our product. Luckily, we discovered this just days before our planned launch.

Torching the Christmas Ham with Whiskey Mustard Glaze

Get the best results from your whiskey mustard ham glaze with a propane torch and flame spreader.

Naturally, until we’re 100% confident that we have a legally-blessed product name, we have to put our Kickstarter project and marketing efforts on “pause.” But we’re very confident that everybody involved wants the best for everybody else involved…we just need to make sure we cross all the Ts and dot the Is with the help of intellectual property experts before we ask for your support, or invest any more money in label design, marketing, or public relations.

Stay tuned to the blog for updates…we expect to have good news in January! Until then, here’s a photo of our Christmas ham and whiskey mustard ham glaze for your enjoyment. You can get the recipe on Facebook.

Best Wishes for a Wonderful 2017 from Dayton Comestibles!