Friday, July 17, 2009

Pancake Mix A Huge Hit and More - From the Mailbag

I thought I'd post a bit of the positive feedback we've been getting recently.

We supplied our Pancake and Waffle Mix to Community Natural Foods in Calgary for there annual Calgary Stampede Pancake Breakfast. It's always well attended but this year the numbers were -huge-.
I just wanted to say THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, for all of your support for our Stampede breakfast. The Kinnikinnick pancakes were a huge hit with not only the G.F. customers but as well others that just wanted to try it.

We went through it all except and had just enough for the last pancake stragglers at the end. All in all it was a huge hit. I heard comments from many in line that they never have tasted it before.....boy were they good......

We estimated 2100 people at the breakfast and we still had to turn away another hundred or so at the end.
And speaking of our Pancake Mix, I received this via Twitter from GFinSC
best pancake mix by far! Been doing this for 8 years and haven't found other brand that comes close!! Thank you!
Our new Personal Pizza Crusts have been out for about 6 months now and we've been getting great feedback, even from non-GF people like Margaret & Steve from Texas
My fiance and I made ... pizza using your 7" pizza crusts and fell in love. We're originally from New York and understand what a great pizza and pizza crust taste like. Steve and I were never able to find a healthy pizza crust product that we liked. Today we visited Kroger's grocery store and browsed through the healthy aisle to find a healthy pizza crust. We found your product and it was the only package left.

Your 7" pizza crust was chewy in the middle and crispy on the outside. These were the most delicious pizzas we have ever tasted in our life.....thanks to your product. And thanks to your product I have convinced my fiance to make healthy pizza, at home, using your product when he has a pizza craving. Your product will definitely help us live a better and healthier lifestyle. I can't wait to try some of your other products.
They're also helping Diane stick to her GF Diet (that's -really- important):
I have just tried you 7 inch pizza crusts. They are absolutely delicious! Usually when my husband has pizza I cheat on my gluten free diet and have a piece of "real pizza" and then pay the price. Last night I made my own pizza with your pizza crust and I can honestly say I will no longer cheat. Your crusts are fantastic. THANK YOU!
Our KinniTOOS are the #1 selling GF cream cookie in North America and it's because of people like Erin.
I felt compelled to write to tell you how amazing your KinniToos chocolate creme sandwiches cookies are! So outstanding I had to blog about them
BlogLink And have been sharing them with everyone.

Bravo to your company for making such a wonderful Gluten-Free cookie - and for giving me back a taste of my childhood.
(the blog post is a nice read... "The first bite brought tears to my eyes." makes us remember why we do this.)

This is a 2 product comment from Sara via our website
I just wanted to thank you for making the BEST gluten free products anywhere... I don't know how you do it, but the quality and taste of every Kinnikinnick product I've ever had far surpasses any other gluten free brand out there. I just had your [S'moreables ]graham crackers for the first time since going gluten free three years ago, and I swear they are even better than I remember real graham crackers tasting! And your K-TOO cookies -- I never thought I'd be able to have anything remotely resembling an Oreo again in my life, but your cookies are pretty close! So I'd just like to say a big THANK YOU, and keep up the good work.
Our donuts have always been popular, but since we reformulated them last year, we've seen a big increase in comments like this short but sweet comment from Karen via our webpage
The donuts are AWESOME!!!!!!!!
and from imightbeodd via Twitter
Kinnikinnick hit it out of the ballpark with their gluten-free donuts!! MmmMm
From GF_Steph on Twitter
Review of Kinnikinnick's Gluten Free Chocolate Dipped Donuts: BlogLink Slowly finding acceptable subs for EVERYTHING! :)
and from GF_Steph a day later
Trying to talk myself out of eating a 2nd Kinnikinnick GF Chocolate Dipped donut...It's not working.
(sorry Steph ;)

Feedback from our latest change, the new Hot Dog & Hamburger buns is also starting to show up like this one from Alan in CT.
Just wanted to say that your new and improved hot dog rolls are awesome! Not too bulky, great consistency and fantastic taste! I can finally enjoy hot dogs again. I'm heading back to the store to stock up on them.
Kelly L posted this comment on our blog article Major Store Announcement & Store Finder Upgrade

Twice Kinnikinnick suprised me this week! First found the new hot dog buns at our not so local health food store - and kids loved them...just days before Independance Day BBQ! Then I find our local (less than 1 mile!) TARGET is one of 2 "test-market" stores stocking Kinnikinnick as well as toehr GF products. Banner week!
We even found a review on Flickr from thePlaidMushroom
First time eating a gluten free basic bread that I really enjoyed. see all the air-pockets? it's like real bread!

I am Kinnikinnick's biggest fan. in the world. I LOVE KINNIKINNICK's PRODUCTS!!! ALL OF THEM!!!
with some pictures FlickrLink

It's great when we get a letter from a newly diagnosed celiac like Seaneen
I was diagnosed with "silent" Celiac Disease less than 2 weeks ago and to say that the diagnosis came out of left field would be a big understatement.

I have been incredibly lucky, however, to have discovered your products almost immediately (the Sunflower Flax Seed bread was the second one I tried, after a horrible first experience with another company's product) and I have been on the hunt for more ever since. I have been fighting frustration and disappointment as I move through life and realize many of my favorite foods are now off limits.

Thank you for your amazing products. I have only just started to explore your website and just finished reading your story and the Kinniki-What?? portion. The analogy of your company being like the bearberry plant really touched me, and just makes me love your company more.

Thank you!!!
Our waffles get great reviews too like this one from Asia (a person not the place):
About a year and a half ago I discovered your Original Homestyle Waffles and fell in love with them. They were the first gluten free waffle I actually enjoyed and I found them to be just as tasty as a certain name brand wheat waffle.
From Sherry via our website
Me and my kids LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your homestyle frozen waffles, muffins, donuts, chocolate cake mix and pancake and waffle mix. Please don't ever discontinue these items. I would also love to see your frozen homestyle waffles in the regular grocery stores.
We'd love to see them in more stores to and we'll be doing a big promotion on our waffles in October so look for more info on Twitter or here on the blog in coming months.

I also got some great replies to my post on The Importance Of A Dedicated Gluten Free Facility

You can see the comments BlogLink

That's just a quick selection of what we've been seeing from email, our website feedback, twitter and from the blog. We actually still get hand written notes too. We read all these to our staff at our monthly staff birthday parties and it really helps keep them motivated to bring you the best products possible.

Couple of additional things to round out the post today.

I've just added a Filter By Allergen feature to our website. Look for the "Free Of Search" button on our Browse/Buy Product pages. Click what ingredients you want to avoid and the category will show you what's available.

If you're in the Edmonton area this weekend, come an join us for a Fund Raiser for Edmonton Celiac Association & CyclingForCeliacs. It's a Pancake Breakfast tomorrow (Sat.July 18) between 9-11am at Kinnikinnick Foods

More Info Here

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Importance of a Dedicated Gluten Free Facility

As many of you know, Kinnikinnick Foods is a dedicated gluten free manufacturer. Since 1991, we've been Gluten Free and we always will be. Not only that, we do not out source the production of our products to anyone. We have complete control over the production of our products. I know how important this is to us, but I'm quite interested to know how important it is to you.

Why am I asking this? There's a couple of reasons actually. With all the publicity around gluten free recently, we are starting to see a lot more companies, both big and small, jump on the GF bandwagon. Some will have dedicated facilities, some will not and some will outsource production of their products to others. Some will get it right but some won't and that's a concern.

Mostly it's due to several experiences I've had over the last couple of years that really bring the issue into focus for me.

A Fog of Gluten
We are doing some testing of new equipment at a non-GF facility to see if that type of equipment can be used for our products. Our first day of trials was quite a reminder of why we are a dedicated facility. Flour dust hung like a fog in the air; it clung to our clothes and skin like glue (gluten!) , and I actually had a reaction later that day as I wasn't wearing a mask. Of course, the trial products went into the trash at the end of the day and we actually had to change clothes and wash our shoes before returning to Kinnikinnick as we were a contamination risk. I just don't know how anyone could make GF & non-GF products in the same building. Flour dust is -everywhere-

Think It's Clean Do You?
This also brought back memories of when we opened our K2 facility. We bought this Yes, it really is that big120,000 sq ft building and it's equipment when the largest producer of private label (wheat based) cookies in western Canada went out of business in 2005. When it was producing wheat based products, this facility was AIB (American Institute of Baking) certified with a consistently high score on it's regular audits. In other words, it was a very "clean" facility. However, before we made a single product in this new facility of ours, we spent over 6 months decontaminating the building and equipment. Every nook and cranny of the building was pressure washed, twice. Ceiling, girders, ducting, walls; all were washed. One week, the entire building had the electricity shut down so we could wash the lights, electrical conduit and instrument panels. Each piece of equipment was broken down to it's constituent parts and every nut, bolt and gear washed clean.

We were fortunate enough to be able to hire some of the employees of the previous company who knew the equipment. Being new to the gluten free world, it was very instructive for them to take apart the AIB certified, "clean" equipment and find wheat flour caked in places that were impossible to see and even harder to clean. Many of these places inside equipment would be in contact with anything produced in that equipment. Yikes. They quickly became gluten detectives, probing every bit of our equipment to ensure we could be certain this equipment was as clean as new.

We had the same experience in 2007 when we bought a used waffle production line. There were places in that machine that could only be cleaned of contamination by a complete tear down of the parts of the machine. I have some video which I'll dig up and post shortly of just how bad it really was.

UPDATE: Here's The Video

Personally, as a result of these experiences and because I am a celiac who actually eats some products from companies other than Kinnikinnick(!), I have a much greater sense of wariness when I see "manufactured in a facility that contains wheat." From a company perspective, I'd like every manufacturer of GF products to go to the lengths and expense we do. I know that some do already but some don't. As a consumer, it's tough to know just what you can expect. Hopefully, the new FDA regulations (if/when they are implemented) will bring some clarity to the issue. The issue in Canada is a bit clearer due to our regulations, but it can still be hard to know what to think.

We're not going to change the way we do things here at Kinnikinnick, because we believe it's the right thing to do and we think it's important to you. Let us know.

FYI... You can read more about our ongoing, daily procedures and testing for gluten on a previous post here