Started from our Kitchen Now We’re Here: The EATABLE Journey from Passion to Reality
Like many good stories, ours started over a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon.
We’re Charlene & Vince,a husband-and-wife duo behind EATABLE. At the time of writing, our company has just turned two! As we look back on all that has happened since our initial launch in 2019, we thought we’d share more about our backstory, who we are, and how we came to create the company EATABLE is today!
So grab a glass of vino - After all, this started back in time at a wine tasting class where we bonded over our love of cabernet sauvignon. While we both loved Old World reds, Charlene introduced Vince to craft beer, and Vince introduced Charlene to single malt Scotch.
Being a couple of foodies, we enjoyed unique culinary experiences, and gourmet food and drink. It has always been a big belief of ours that the best food is made fresh, with real everyday ingredients.
On our Friday night snack runs, we became frustrated by the lack of clean, yet exciting snack choices on store shelves for movie nights. We would go through the aisles only to find ourselves staring at either really healthy but bland snacks, or really pretty confectionery snacks that packed with bad calories and synthetic ingredients – all artificial flavours, colours, and preservatives.
The ones where you find on labels that make you wonder, “Is that even a real word?”
Ultimately, this inspired us to experiment in our kitchen and make our own - The perfect pairing of our two loves: a good snack + a good drink!
Born in Boston, Raised in Toronto
In 2017, we were living in Boston with our toddler son. As a way to meet new people in the city, we decided to explore our lifelong culinary passion by getting involved in cooking classes at a local community kitchen.
It turned out that community kitchen hosted a business incubator, which we joined initially as a fun passion project. The session ended with a pitch competition, where we made our first creation: a Scotch-whisky infused caramel popcorn which later became “Whisky on the pops” (which we affectionately call “The OG”). After placing Top 2 in front of a panel of judges in the food industry, a “eureeka” moment hit - We suddenly realized that the popcorn we’d been making for years on our kitchen stove was a huge hit with people, and this idea had potential.
So, in a moment of “Carpe Diem”, we decided to turn our handcrafted popcorn into a bona fide business. We left our desk jobs in finance and real estate and decided to move home to Toronto to be closer to our families, and the rest was history.
The Meaning behind “EATABLE”
Truthfully, the idea behind EATABLE was already years in the making, we just didn’t know it.
Throughout his teenage years, Vince had struggled with his weight and tried every kind of diet to manage feelings of self-consciousness over his body image. Charlene had experienced bouts of depression and anxiety, which first manifested during years of working in a demanding corporate environment, and then turned into postpartum after giving birth to our first child.
As we navigated through career changes, marriage, becoming parents, and life’s triumphs and tribulations, the one thing that always gave us comfort was good food, and meaningful conversations (with wine) around our dinner table.
The name EATABLE actually stemmed from Charlene’s mom’s uncanny ability to lift our spirits with good food after a hard day. She’d cook beautiful homemade dinners for the family, and in her Chinese-Canadian accent, she’d ask everyone, “Is this eatable?” (instead of “edible”).
That word always stuck as part of our vocabulary, and it became synonymous in our family with the idea of good, wholesome indulgences during life’s little celebrations. It also became the perfect name when we created our popcorn as a way to turn our favourite beverages into an “EATABLE” form!
Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day… but we learned it from “Paris”
EATABLE started as a love of new experiences, and became an entrepreneurial journey born in Boston, bringing us back to our hometown in Toronto. We wanted to refine our initial recipes before launching in order to achieve the perfect balance of flavour and texture.
We worked alongside Paris-trained pastry chefs in a commercial kitchen for over a year, learning, testing and experimenting with different artisanal confectionery techniques to infuse the flavour of our favourite wines and spirits into popcorn.
It was a challenge to stick with using natural ingredients while focusing on creating a shelf-stable product, but we insisted on staying true to our core values of sourcing premium locally-sourced ingredients for our snacks wherever possible: non-GMO corn from an Ontario farm, REAL Canadian butter, and wines from Niagara-on-the-Lake.
We had our logo designed, set up an e-commerce website, our first fulfillment centre out of our basement, and stored 10 skids worth of shipping boxes in our garage - it was a bootstrapped business in every way!
EATABLE officially launched in early 2019 with three original flavours: Whisky on the Pops, Pop the Champagne, and Poppin’ Merlot PB&J. Over the next year, we released two more flavours: Pop the Salt & Tequila and Poppin’ Peach Bellini. Each of these flavours have been thoroughly tested and approved by the most discerning palettes, from chefs and Sommeliers, to picky preschoolers alike!
After our cooking process has completed, the finished product is virtually alcohol free, leaving only the flavour notes of wines, spirits and cocktails, perfectly paired with the classic flavours you know and love.
Popping up Incredibly Delicious Popcorn Across Canada & the USA
Just months after our initial launch, our popcorn started to catch the attention of local Toronto food and lifestyle influencers, and we gained some key media and press features. We’ve had our popcorn featured by Siera Bearchell (Miss Universe Canada 2016), and Grego Minot (The Real Housewives of Toronto), the Marilyn Dennis Show, Shopify’s “Tasty Business” Youtube series and GoodDay Sacramento. We even had the opportunity to film an episode on Season 14 of CBC’s Dragon’s Den, where our company landed a deal with Arlene Dickinson. See more press features here.
We quickly outgrew our commercial kitchen space later that year, and took a big step to move into our own dedicated production facility - a 1700 sq ft space located in Vaughan, Ontario. There we were able to increase our production capacity and began to build our wholesale business, supplying to artisanal and specialty brick and mortar shops, and online retailers across Canada and USA.
We’ve also been fortunate to have the opportunity to collaborate on some unique limited release flavours with household names in the beverage industry including Jack Daniels, Smirnoff, Jacob’s Creek wines and Piper Hiedsieck Champagne.
Eating Good, and Doing Good
EATABLE’s mission has always been to create refined snacks that are at the heart of people’s everyday celebrations. Whether you’re celebrating everyday wins at work, at an intimate gathering with friends, or spending quality family time at home, we want our products to be a reminder to savor everyday moments with those you love.
A portion of every online sale gets donated to Second Harvest - Canada’s largest food rescue organization with a dual mission of environmental protection and hunger relief.
We’re also proud to be a certified Plastic Neutral company that offsets the environmental impact of our packaging: For each bag sold, we’re removing one from our environment. Learn more about our sustainability pledge.
Two years later, EATABLE is stocked at 150+ retailers across Canada and USA, expanding our team, and working on some very interesting new projects and collaborations in 2021. We feel incredibly grateful to have embarked on such an amazing journey, creating gourmet snacks for a living! The incredible support of our Connoisseur community carried us through an unprecedented 2020 to experience our strongest growth year. In many ways, we’re still just getting started - wait ‘til you see what we have in store this year and beyond!
Tried it already? Or you have new flavour ideas you want to see in the future? We love hearing from you! Be sure to follow us @eatableinc on Instagram, for all the latest happenings and weekly giveaways!
Where can you find EATABLE popcorn?
You can place an order directly on EATABLE.com, or find our treats at 150+ retailers across Canada and USA, including Indigo and Saks off 5th stores across Canada.
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