With gluten free foods becoming all the new rage these days I wanted to interview someone I believe to be not only a thought leader in the gluten free food industry, but an admirable business woman. I had the honor of interviewing Mary Waldner, Founder and CEO of Mary’s Gone Crackers, about her thoughts on nutrition and what it means to live a gluten-free life.
After baking batches and batches of crackers in her very own oven, Mary had an epiphany on New Years day in 1999—to bring this product to market. After gaining positive feedback from a range of palates, Mary and her husband and co-founder Dale Rodrigues, began to bring Mary’s Gone Crackers to a larger scale. In 2004, Mary’s Gone Crackers was incorporated and as they say, “the rest is history.”
Here’s the conversation Mary and I had:
Q: What advice would you give to women who are trying to pursue their own business to become successful?
A: Really get a sense of what’s already out in the industry you’re pursuing and make sure what you’re doing is different! Starting your own business is a lot of work, so make sure you’re not trying to put your energy into something that is already done. Once you make the decision to start your business, be sure to give it 110%. One of our mottos is “failure is not an option,” but it’s by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Oh and we also go by the mantra, “the universe wants these crackers.”
Q: What’s the story behind your product Sticks and Twigs? Is it your version of a glorified pretzel?
A: I knew the equipment we already had could make a product like this and thought it would be a good opportunity to try new flavors and grains. Yes, it’s a glorified pretzel.
Q: What advice would you give to someone who just started a gluten free diet?
A: For a lot of people it’s at first depressing but just take a deep breath and start to pay attention to all of the different grains you can eat. Take it as an opportunity to go on a healthy path.
Q: I recently learned of your Just Crumbs product. Do you have a favorite recipe to share using these?
A: I often use it to “bread” and then bake chicken breasts. It keeps the chicken extremely moist. I also will use the Just Crumbs in an apple crisp to replace the oatmeal.
Q: What’s your favorite cracker flavor?
A: I go in phases but right now it’s onion.
Q: What are your top three tips for someone who will be traveling gluten free this summer?
A: Do research before you leave and find out where you can eat. That way you don’t feel stuck without any options. There are so many restaurants with gluten free menus nowadays and gluten free bakeries are popping up everywhere! Bring a bag of gluten free snacks (I always bring a bag of my Sticks and Twigs, or crackers, or both). Lastly, don’t hesitate to ship a box of gluten free food and snacks to your hotel.
Q: Where do you see Mary’s Gone Crackers in the future?
A: I see a lot of room for the cookies to grow. It takes a lot of money and time to roll out new products, so we want to focus on what we have for right now.
If you haven’t had the opportunity to try Mary’s products prepare to be addicted. I could probably eat an entire bag of the chipotle tomato Sticks and Twigs in a little under an hour. I also recently found a love for the N’Oatmeal Raisin Cookies and as someone who isn’t gluten free intolerant, I am still beyond obsessed with all of Mary’s products. I love knowing that I’m getting a wholesome product with great taste.
Click here for a recipe for Eggplant Sandwiches Using “Just Crumbs” from Mary’s Gone Crackers