There’s revolution in the air in Massachusetts.
Food entrepreneurs are cooking up businesses in the Bay State that are changing the way folks in New England — and across the country — sip, snack, and sup.
With its robust network of shared kitchen spaces and a vibrant startup ecosystem, Boston has nurtured this network of emerging food and beverage companies throughout the region .
Check out these 15 awesome Massachusetts food entrepreneurs who are making it in Beantown and beyond.
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For Will Nitze, the idea for IQ Bar emerged from a brain fog. After discovering that low-carb foods rich in healthy fats helped him think more clearly, Nitze wondered why there weren’t more snacks on shelves that fit that bill. So in 2016, he decided to make one. A successful Kickstarter campaign led Will and his team to Boston's Masschallenge accelerator, and then PepsiCo’s Nutrition Greenhouse accelerator. Today his bars can be found all over the place, including over 4,000 CVS locations. And if you’re looking for a healthy snack to keep the office gang going, IQ Bar offers corporate accounts.
Chica de Gallo (@chicadegallo): Salsas and Guacamole
When Texas-native Amanda Bauman fell for a New Englander, she decided to bring her love of Tex Mex flavors north. In 2012 she and Ben Russo launched Chica de Gallo. Their salsas and guacamoles range from mild to ghost pepper hot. This spring Chica de Gallo was named the official salsa and guacamole for Fenway Park. Now, you can enjoy their tastes of the Lone Star state at home, or while cheering on the Red Sox.
A near-disastrous date sparked the birth of 88 Acres. When Rob Dalton had an allergic reaction to a meal cross-contaminated with nuts, Nicole Ledoux was inspired to create snacks they both could enjoy. In 2015, 88 Acres was born, and today they offer a wide array of snacks and butters made from seeds. Their watermelon, pumpkin, sunflower, and flax seed products are now on shelves in hundreds of locations across New England.
thisHAITI (@thishaiti): Snacks, spices, and sauces
For Blonde Beauchamp road to bringing the tastes of Haiti to Boston actually began across the Atlantic in Ireland. The native Bostonian, and child of Haitian immigrants, realized there was a market for the flavors she grew up with after noticing her Irish friends’ enthusiastic responses to Haitian meals she’d make. ThisHAITI’s flagship product is pikliz, a tangy relish for savory dishes. They also manufacture a salted plantain chip and a dry spice blend to easily add Haitian flavors to a dish.
Alex's Ugly Sauce (@alexuglysauce): Sauces
Founder Alex Bourgeois spent four years tinkering in pursuit of the perfect hot sauce after he realized he couldn’t find something that satisfied his tastebuds on store shelves. When his co-workers started asking if they could buy the hot sauce he was bringing in for lunch at the office, Alex realized he had a winning idea. He left his job as software engineer, and in 2010, Alex’s Ugly Sauce was born. Alex's Ugly Sauce uses peppers grown in Massachusetts and honey sourced from New England apiaries for a truly local product. It is available online and at farmer’s markets and stores, including Whole Foods, across New England.
Batch Ice Cream (@batchicecream): Ice Cream
Husband-wife foodpreneurs Dave and Deb LeRiche gave themselves a sweet wedding present. A month after their April 2018 marriage they acquired Batch Ice Cream from its co-founders, Susie Parish and Veronica Janssens. The New Braintree-based company vows to make ice cream "with only fresh, pure ingredients that you would use at home if you were making it and no weird stuff like stabilizers or gums…ever!” Batch Ice Cream can be found at stores in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. Soon it will also be available for purchase online.
Chocolate Therapy (@therapychocolate): Chocolates
When husband-wife team David and Pam Griffin decided it was time to work for themselves, they brought a combined 50 years of corporate experience in retail and manufacturing to their food business. Chocolate Therapy makes artisanal truffles that you can feel good about — the treats are infused with antioxidant rich ingredients. Since their 2011 launch, David and Pam have expanded their business from retail into wholesale and events.
For lighting designer, Nancy Goldstein it was love at first bite when she ate a BudiBar in 2010. The vegan snack bars became an on-the-go staple for her. She was such a fan that when the company stopped production in 2015, she decided to buy BudiBar and save it. Thanks to her hustle, today the certified vegan, kosher, wheat free and sugar free superfood bars are available for purchase online and at grocery stores, health food stores, gyms, and coffee shops in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island.
Full Moon Ghee (@fullmoonghee): Butters and Oils
Hannah Jacobson-Hardy and Daniel Rainwater teamed up to launch Full Moon Ghee in 2016. The pair, who met studying yoga, started by making ghee for friends and family. The enthusiastic response encouraged them to take up residence at a community kitchen and start selling batches at a farmers market. Today Full Moon Ghee can be found beyond its home in Greenfield at restaurants and stores across New England, as well as online. How’d they come up with the name? In keeping with ancient Aryuvedic traditions, each batch of their ghee is made on the full moon.
Seven Hills Pasta (@sevenhillspasta): Pasta
Carol and Giulio Caperchi can trace the origins of their food business to Giulio’s grandmother. Born in Rome, Giulio’s's introduction to the culinary world began spending Sundays learning how to make fresh pasta with his nonna. He and Carol, a Shrewsberry native, decided that they should marry his knowledge of pasta with her marketing background and launched Seven Hills in 2017. Their made-from-scratch pasta is showing up on shelves across New England, and even as far south as the Catskills. The couple also are sharing Giulio’s hard-earned knowledge through a series of pasta making classes.
Smokey Divas / 92nd Sauce (@92ndsauce): BBQ Sauce
When Dorothy Turner Everett took out a loan to launch an Oakland, California BBQ joint in 1973, she couldn’t have known that almost 50 years later, her granddaughter would be introducing people to her flavors nearly 3,000 miles away. Lorraine Jones launched her own BBQ restaurant, Smokey Divas, in Pittsfield in 2018 to showcase her signature 92nd Sauce. Made and bottled in Greenfield, 92nd Sauce is inspired by the original secret family recipe and comes in three heats: mild, medium and hot. Jones’s sauce can be found in stores across Massachusetts and also purchased online.
Jay's Wicked (@jayswicked): Sauces
A chef since 2002, Jay Green invented his first sauce in 2010 — intending only to serve it on burgers at his restaurant. When diners started asking for sauce to take home with them, he and his wife Shannon decided it was time to turn the condiment into the main attraction and launch a business. Today, if you’re feeling wicked you can find 7 different flavors as well as a rub and tonics on the Jay’s Wicked website, and at grocers across Massachusetts.
Makomas (@makomasjuices): Juices and Teas
Magbè Savané started Makomas to bring the West African flavors she enjoyed growing up in Cote d’Ivoire to her new home in Massachusetts. Her juices and teas marry ingredients familiar to a Western palate, like pineapple and beets, with ingredients like baobab and moringa tea that are sustainably grown by women farmers in Burkina Faso. Founded in 2010, Makomas can now be found on shelves throughout New England and on the company’s web site. Makomas’ acclaim is still growing. Last fall Savané won a $75,000 award from PepsiCo at the Boston MassChallenge Awards.
Jaju Peirogi (@jajupierogi): Pierogis
When sisters Vanessa and Casey White moved to Boston, they were homesick for the Polish foods they’d grown up eating with their family in Western Massachusetts. In 2015 they decided to carry on a family tradition. Their grandfather, or Jaju, ran a Polish food business. Armed with his recipes, the duo started making pierogi from scratch using locally sourced ingredients. Today you can find their pierogis in stores throughout New England, or enjoy them onsite at their store in Somerville.
Sweet Tahini (@sweettahini): Sauces
While many Americans think of tahini as something to be drizzled on falafel as an afterthought, Hila Krikov knows better. And she wants you to know, too! Drawing on the tastes of her native Israel, the former fashion executive launched Sweet Tahini in 2017 to show just how awesome tahini can be. Her sweet tahinis can be baked into breads and cookies or paired with chocolate, and as an added bonus, are packed with vitamins and healthy fats. Today her tahinis can be purchased online or at farmers markets in the greater Boston area.
Are you launching a food and beverage business, or thinking about taking the leap? These resources in and around Boston that can help you in your entrepreneurial adventure.