What’s been the most challenging aspect of the bakery?
Keeping up with the growth! We love meeting potential new customers as they are often small business owners like ourselves, but sometimes they all want snacks at once. We pride ourselves on training our staff thoroughly to ensure consistent, high quality snacks, and that takes time. we also bake everything to order each week, so we won’t have extra snack inventory lying around – they are baked goods after all, and meant to be enjoyed fresh! All of this adds up to late nights baking and packaging snacks for new customers. We are happy to do it knowing that hundreds of new folks in Baltimore & DC will get to enjoy our delicious snacks as a result!
You are mostly a wholesale business…what about a brick and mortar store? Why wholesale over retail?
Well, we originally started at the farmers market but were flooded by requests from local grocers + stores to package our snacks so they could feature them on their shelves. We saw the greatest opportunity in going the wholesale route and we have been organically growing that way since.
Did you ever think you’d operate a bakery?
Nope! I graduated college with a degree in Biology and Environmental Science and Katie graduated with a degree in Speech Pathology. Not exactly on our expected career trajectory.
What are your snacking rituals?
We have oh so many – it depends on the time of day and hunger levels. Katie’s favorite around the kitchen is a combination of our Baked Cheese Stamps and Orange Tarragon Candied Almonds – the most savory combination possible! I regularly enjoy a Triple Ginger Cookie with my coffee in the morning.
Your product is made to order – can you elaborate on the timing and workflow of one particular snack say, baked cheese stamps?
Gladly! we are so proud of the fact that we bake everything to order for our snack locations each week. We just want everyone to be enjoying the freshest snacks possible. I’ll give you an example of our baked cheese stamps made for deliveries on Wednesday mornings. We prepare by shredding 2lb blocks of cheese and cutting butter for each batch on Monday, followed by making the dough on Tuesday morning. It is a very simple dough, and mostly cheese – we just add a little butter, flour, salt and water. The dough is then rolled out to the ideal thickness and cut by hand by all our snack-makers. because of how much everyone loves our Baked Cheese Stamps, we are making them almost every day to keep up with our orders and everyone on our team helps with cutting them into their perfect stamp size. they are then baked to the desired crispiness, and broken up by hands to separate them into individual crackers. we then weigh them and pour into each bag, 5 oz each. While this size can certainly be shared, it is also meant to be a guilt-free snack portion.
Who are some of your entrepreneurial role models?
We are fortunate enough to have both come from families of entrepreneurs and hard-working folks. We have parents that started businesses, as well as aunts and uncles, cousins and siblings running their own operations. In addition to familial support, we have met so many incredible people here in Baltimore that own businesses and that we are lucky enough to call friends + mentors – Michele’s Granola, Blacksauce Kitchen, Jinji’s Chocolate, B. Willow, Neopol, and HEX Ferments to name just a few.
What do you snack on when not snacking on your own creations?
Growing up near a pretzel factory, they are my ultimate comfort food – especially when dipped into an herby cream cheese and maybe, if i’m feeling fancy, some fried capers. Katie has the real sweet tooth around here and will always enjoy a good piece of chocolate cake, or a slice of pie a la mode.
Describe the scene at the bakery – is there music playing, when does the day start, what happens first?
Our days start around 7AM, depending on the size of our orders that week. It’s generally pretty quiet to start the day, with some coffee brewing and everyone getting settled into their tasks for the day. By 9AM, there is definitely some music playing. Everyone has their own playlist really, but you will often hear rap music, R&B, 80’s and 90’s classics, certainly some dance tunes – and always, always, always Beyonce. We mix it up with podcasts like Radiolab, 2 Dope Queens, and This American Life and listen to our neighbors at WYPR throughout the day to catch up on news. I got sidetracked talking about all the music we enjoy, but our mornings start with mixing up dough, followed by cookie scooping and cracker cutting. After snacks are baked off, our team transitions to cleaning up and moving upstairs to package all the snacks baked that day.
If you’re not doing the baking anymore, who is?
What’s their story and how did they come to be part of the Kinderhook family? Our staff is truly incredible. We now have a team of 7 lady snack-makers (Kerry, Lily, Whitney, Molly, Ann Marie, Mary and Becky) and one delivery driver, Nate, who also helps us out with packaging two days a week. Everyone has various degrees of experience and extracurriculars from pottery making, novel and poetry writing, all the way to a cricket farm. Bottom line is they all love snacking and are dedicated to upholding the quality and deliciousness everyone has come to expect from Kinderhook.
Why do you make the snacks you do? What’s the story behind them and are they attached to a certain memory or philosophy?
Each snack has a different story, but most of them were on our original menu at the farmers market when we first started. They are twists on classics we love, whether from our family traditions, our favorite blogs, or completely original creations. Our Orange Tarragon Candied Almonds, for example, were inspired by my family’s Easter menu, which consists of fresh orange slices with mozzarella, olive oil and roasted fennel.
Every baker is always asked ‘what about gluten free’ – what’s your answer there?
We have 4 gluten-free snacks to offer! Our Coconut Honey Macaroons along with all 3 of our candied nuts are gluten-free. We do always mention that if someone has a serious gluten allergy, they should unfortunately stay away from our snacks. We have a small kitchen and while we do our best to eliminate all opportunity for cross-contamination, it is possible that it occurs because of proximity.
Beyond your seasonal specialties, what are you doing next season?
This spring and summer, we have two of our favorite Limited Edition snacks to offer – our Mother’s Day Double Chocolate Espresso Cookies and our Father’s Day Orange Chocolate Fudge Cookies. we will also be spending time training our new staff to become expert snack-makers – and hopefully finding some time for everyone to enjoy a little vacation. this spring has been especially busy for us (THANK YOU, SNACKERS!) and our team definitely deserves a little time off.