October 7, 2008
The Orange County Register story on Krispy Dips… Currently only available on the online version, but should go to print shortly.
They’re also going to have a pretty exciting press deal tomorrow morning… I won’t say anything just yet, but you might get to see a YouTube clip of it
October 1, 2008
I’ll let their description cover it for you:
A Krispy Dip is the grown-up version of the crispy marshmallow treat you loved as a kid.
We start with our signature recipe for the original “Krispy” square made from real imported Madagascar vanilla, creamery butter and the gooiest marshmallows we could find. Each hand-crafted square is then dipped in the finest chocolate and topped with an array of decadent toppings including rich caramel, real espresso beans, sweet coconut and roasted nuts.
Customer satisfaction is of the utmost importance to us. Every order is dipped then shipped to ensure quality and freshness. We are dedicated to providing a superior product that you will come back to again and again. So come dip into delicious!
They’ve worked very hard to create a truly unique and elegant product. For those of you looking for new gift ideas for friends and family over the holidays, you won’t be disappointed. And for anyone who either owns a small business or sends out corporate gifts to thank important clients, they can do customization to give it the personal touch. They’ve already been involved in a wedding, a baby shower, have provided Dips for an LA Dodgers function, and will be doing a major function later this month with another SoCal sports team. They’re even working towards entry into local gourmet markets.
And last, but most certainly not least, they taste great. If anyone happens to be a fan of dark chocolate and espresso, the espresso bean flavor is my favorite. I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, and that one blows me away!
So head on over and give it a look. It truly is a new and refined twist on a familiar treat, and it’s sure to please!
February 6, 2008
No. It’s not a million-dollar idea. But it’s a good idea, if I say so myself! And, because I’m that kind of guy, I’m only posting about this idea because I can’t figure out any way to make money off of it!
As a new parent, and having watched many other parents, I know that romantic dinners with your spouse seem to disappear once the kids arrive. I recently made reservations for my wife and I for Valentine’s Day, and it’ll be her, myself, and Wyatt out for the evening. Luckily, Wyatt is still young enough that he’s reasonably well-behaved (and immobile) at restaurants, so we shouldn’t have much trouble. But it’s a pretty nice restaurant, and if he was anywhere between 18 months and 4 years, I’m guessing we’d probably get our asses thrown out of the place.
But there’s a problem. Luckily for us, we have family in the area, so if we really wanted a night away, there are people we trust to leave in charge of Wyatt. And grandparents are known for volunteering for that sort of thing. But not long ago, we were living in Georgia, and there were only a very few people we knew well enough to leave as a babysitter. Trying to get a babysitter, at what we have learned is a relatively large cost ($5-10 per hour, which can add up quickly), would make it nearly impossible for us to go out for a “nice” dinner on a whim. And society has become more like we were in Georgia, with young couples moving away from family to follow jobs, than it is for us now, where young couples live in close proximity to family.
So how can “nice” restaurants, the ones who cater more to romantic dinners than your loud obnoxious family-friendly everyday eateries, cater to these young affluent parents? I think the answer is simple: have a room and a small staff devoted to taking care of kids!
Imagine, you want to take your wife to a nice steakhouse, but you know that your two-year-old won’t sit still for the 90-120 minutes that it will require to have a fine dining experience. You could leave your child with a babysitter, but then you constantly worry about what’s happening at home, and you have the thought in the back of your mind that even if you “got a call”, it might be 15-60 minutes before you could make it home. More often than not, you’re probably going to forego the dining experience in favor of something more convenient and accessible to a family with children. If you do choose the dinner, you know it will be a stressful experience where you spend more time worrying about whether your babysitter is watching R-rated movies while your child cries in a corner than tasting succulent medium-rare filet. And worst-case, you can bring your kids with you, which will probably ensure you spend your whole meal embarrassed by their behavior while the tables adjacent to you mutter nasty things about your lineage under their breaths.
But what if the restaurant had a “kids room”, staffed with one or more people who are good at entertaining children. Throw some toys, some books, and maybe a few TV’s in the room, and the kids will be more than occupied. Feed them some chicken tenders and let them play with other kids, and they’ll be excited to go out for a nice dinner. And if you worry about what they’re up to, you can go over to the room and check on them, because they’re barely out of arm’s reach the whole time!
The restaurant gets increased business from patrons who otherwise might not visit. The other patrons of the restaurant get a noise-free environment where they’re not subjected to the screaming kids. You get a great meal with your spouse, without having to worry about what some babysitter is doing in your home. It’s win-win-win!
As I said, I can’t necessarily call this a million-dollar idea, because I can’t figure out a way that I can make a million dollars from it. But I’m sure that the aggregate profit that could be realized by high-end restaurants due the increased business they attract could be well in excess of that million dollars. While I may never get credit if this idea is realized, I’ll rest easy knowing that I can enjoy the results: stress-free dining when my kid(s) aren’t around (but other parents are), and stress-free dining when I bring my kid(s) with (because I know they’re being cared for and entertained right around the corner).
December 18, 2007
The government believes you should use ethanol as a fuel. They have enacted policies to incentivize ethanol production. Those policies, as I pointed out here, have unintended consequences:
But let’s look at what’s happened. First, we started hurting poor Mexicans by threatening their access to affordable corn tortillas, a staple of the diet for the impoverished in that country. Then, it was found that the high cost of feed corn for animals will end up resulting in high costs and lower supply of meat. And now, it’s spreading to milk. You know, full of calcium, the stuff we tell children will give them strong bones? Great work, Congress!
And now it’s hit me square in the gut, in my beer supply:
I’ll explain what’s happened to the price of Malt and Hops and why, what can be done about it, and why you are going to see prices jump likely between 15 and 25% on the retail end for Craft brews in a matter of weeks.
In late September I was told by another brewery that malt was going up about 40% and hops 30 to 40%. I started calling suppliers and they confirmed this was true, and also that they have no prices locked in yet. Additionally, I was informed that many farmers are not honoring their contracts to the fullest extent (don’t blame the farmers please) due to the crazy price situation that’s evolving in crop farming, with corn being twice the price it was last year.
What does corn have to do with it? Our supplier tells us that with Uncle Sam’s push and financial support for ethanol the price of corn has doubled and many farmers grew corn instead of barley this year. In the UK, where the EU has also required ethanol production, rape seed is the crop of choice and again, a lot more profitable than growing barley and wheat. Couple this with bad weather and growing conditions this year and in Europe and you have a crisis in barley supply. We were told this was coming in early summer, but we assumed our malt company might have meant a 10 to 15% increase in price, not this. When we finally got nailed down pricing last week, one malt price was up 45% and the other up 56%.
As a homebrewer, I just felt this pinch. I knew it was coming eventually, but wasn’t sure how soon or how drastic it would be. I needed to buy some malt for this weekend’s brew session, and went to my usual supplier, who usually has the best prices on just about everything. I was shocked to see that malt prices had jumped 30-50% (depending on variety) since my last order in November.
I’ve been further dealing with the effects of a worldwide shortage of hops, as supply has become inconsistent and prices have shot up, but I can at least blame that on the market. There are some very natural supply-and-demand forces that have affected that market over the last decade, and the market will respond to increase supply. And, to be fair, there are weather-related reasons that the barley crop was not as plentiful as past years. But when government steals my tax dollars and uses them to further exacerbate shortages in the things I want to buy, it’s a double-whammy, and it makes me resent them even further. Instead of having natural supply-and-demand, there is entirely unnatural and inefficient government-created demand that is taking away the incentive to supply malt.
The last thing I need is government policies creating additional cause for shortages. It may be rather “unimportant” that I homebrew beer. And after all, as a hobbyist, I’m willing to spend plenty of money on my hobby, as my constant equipment purchases show. But I look at brewing as a potential future career, and watch as struggling breweries are now forced to deal with this shortage and hope that their consumers are willing and able to afford price increases.
For me, this is an annoyance. For some craft brewers, this might be the difference between being able to stay afloat in business and shutting their doors. It may just be beer, but as I pointed out when discussing the milk, tortilla, and meat price increases:
Simply put, look at how the cost of government is affecting your food. In addition to all the farm subsidies, price supports, and all the other nonsense, they decided to make a completely separate mandate regarding ethanol in the energy supply. What happens? Your cost of living goes up, and your standard of living goes down.
They’ve made some lobbyists and farmers very rich with these policies. And being politicians, they’ve been using your money– not theirs– to do it. They take your taxes, use them to create incentives which make what you want to buy more expensive, and then (especially in the example of beer) tax the hell out of the end product anyway.
I realize some of our readers are in favor of government. So please, can you even attempt to justify this? Why should I be paying three different ways for the government to make some farmers very rich?
October 10, 2007
Well, today is my last day at my current job. Starting Monday Oct 15th, I’m moving on to new things and new challenges. I’m not going to get too deep into the specifics, as I do have coworkers who read this blog, and I like to keep my work and online life separate, but it should be a very good thing in the next few months. With the new job, I do expect to get some traveling, so some of you (particularly those from “real” life) might hear from me if I’m going to be in town…
In other news, the reason I’m taking a few days off between jobs is the Sam Adams competition. Tomorrow morning I leave for Denver for the Great American Beer Festival, and I think it should be a very fun time. Unfortunately, if I’m reading the tea leaves* properly, I’m pretty sure my neighbor and I did not finish in the top two… But either way, I’m quite pleased that I’m getting a chance to visit the GABF and see Denver for the first time. Regardless of winning or not winning, it’s still quite an honor to finish in the top four finalists out of over 2000 entries, and I’m going to do whatever I can to ensure that I can someday use that accolade when I open the South Swell Brewing Company.
* PS – By tea leaves, I’m talking about the Tax & Trade Board’s Public COLA Search… Sam Adams’ desire to keep the results secret were foiled by a government agency actually responding to something quickly and doing their jobs. It’s just my luck, even when government actually works, I get the short end!
July 31, 2007
I’m reading Sam Calagione’s “Brewing Up a Business”, a story about the success of Dogfish Head brewery. So far I’m enjoying it. It’s definitely interesting to understand exactly how he got to where he is today, and how his business grew.
But I’ve got a complaint. The book is designed to be a primer to aspiring entrepreneurs on how to start their own businesses, but the overall tone of the book seems to be “be as unique as Dogfish Head, and for all the same reasons”. There are definitely good points there, and I’m starting to think less about “I want to be a brewer” and more about “What will I be able to to do to distinguish my beer from other brewers’ beer?” I think this is one of the typical problems with books written by entrepreneurs, though, where they write about what made their successful and market it as a description of what will make other businesses successful.
A book about the experiences of other entrepreneurs is still quite helpful, specifically since it was written by someone in the industry I’d like to enter. I’m learning lessons left and right, and count it as a useful tool in getting me to my goal.
But I want something more. Learning from experience can be very helpful, but too often people focus on learning from the success of others. Books written from the perspective of a successful entrepreneur tend to be biased towards how well the decisions worked out, rather than how difficult the decisions were at the time.
So I’m looking for other books. I don’t want books written about successful entrepreneurs. I want books about failure. I want to hear case studies of unsuccessful businesses, and learn as much from the “what not to do” stories as I can learn from the “what to do” stories. There are a lot of reasons why businesses fail, and understanding those pitfalls, written honestly from the perspective of the person who made the wrong decisions, has to be a great tool.
I know these books are out there. While my readership on this blog is pretty tiny, I know some of you have probably read them. So let’s hear some suggestions. What books do I need to read?