You often hear the phrase, “Do what you love, and it won’t feel like work.” After sitting down with Joan MacIsaac, Founder and Co-Owner, that’s the exact feeling I got, mixed in with passion and a dash of perseverance. Effie’s Homemade was founded on one delicious recipe, treasured and loved in her family for over four generations. Along with Irene Costello, also Founder and Co-Owner, the dynamic duo has shared many years of meetings, work, and friendship. It’s only natural that the two form a company of their own to spread their mutual love of one thing: oatcakes.
“We launched the company in the winter of 2008 with the total intention of starting with my mother’s recipe from Nova Scotia, which is oatcakes,” Joan shares with me. “It’s basically a biscuit that we grew up with as kids. It’s always been my favorite food and I knew that there was something special about it.”
And special it was. Joan’s mother, Effie, crafted these Scottish delights—the same recipe produced today, with a few tweaks. Using local butter and rolled oats, this simple biscuit garnered interest amongst the specialty food stores and tea shops in the New England area. The oatcakes were produced by Joan and Irene in a pie shop throughout the night during the initial production and proved to be a smashing success. What started out as 13 stores grew to over 200 in the New England area by the end of 2008, leading to creative combinations made by happy customers.
“We really found that people, especially cheesemongers, were jazzed about pairing our lightly sweet biscuit with cheese,” continued Joan. “You can eat them on their own because they aren’t too sweet, or as a cracker paired with specialty foods like artisan cheeses, chocolates, or jam.”
By the end of 2009, Effie’s Homemade has grown as a company and its biscuits could be found in over 300 stores.
“We have 5 flavors, 8 different SKUs, some of which are single-serve and meant for the foodservice market,” Joan recounted. “Our branding is very homey, very approachable, and the quality of our packaging and ingredients are very simple and straightforward—there’s no artificial ingredients or flavors. That will appeal to a specialty food shopper and mindful people who are reading labels. And that’s important.”
Seeing as all products released follow the same nomenclature—oat, corn, pecan, walnut, and a lovely cocoa—I had to ask what was coming up next for Effie’s Homemade, but couldn’t get past the cookie jar lid. Mallory Amory, Marketing and Events Manager, shared that Effie’s will still play with flavors and combine spices to make a really homey taste that works well for the newest line.
“It’s really important to have a product that’s meaningful to you that you can launch your company with,” Joan shared with me. “It’s really rewarding for myself, Irene, and everybody that’s worked for us. It is truly a family item people can relate to and love.”
Even though it’s based in Boston, Effie’s is available nationally in stores such as Whole Foods, Kroger stores, or Lucky’s Market.
This wonderful biscuit is meant to be enjoyed with anything, anywhere, and anytime. With five flavors already out (and one more in the works), it’s hard not to get excited. For all the insights into the specialty food world, continue reading Deli Market News.