Not Your Grandma's Cereal

Holy Crap packs nutritional punch, natural goodness in every bowl

By Jason Santerre

It took 21 attempts, 21 different variations on a theme but Corin Mullins finally nailed it. “Of those first 21 recipes, some were just awful,” says Corin today, laughing. “But after plenty of trial and error and some help from nutritionists and other experts, I found the right mix.”

That 21st mix proved to be a media and health food sensation. Holy Crap, the cereal with an unforgettable moniker, helped change Corin’s life and that of her husband as well. Corin initially meant to develop a cereal to address Brian’s food allergies. Today, that heartfelt gesture has led to a cereal brand that is carried in over 2,200 stores across Canada.

Over 65 percent of the ingredients are Canadian grown, all of which are 100 percent organic and free of salt, sugar, gluten and genetically modified foods. One main ingredient in Holy Crap is chia, an ancient seed packed with fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. Half the size of a sesame seed, chia grows to nine times its size when added to water, soy or regular milk. The protein is packed in the hemp seeds. “Canada is one of the few countries to not only grow hemp but grow top quality hemp,” says Brian. “Our cranberries are from Quebec, and our apples come from Washington State, which is where we were just this fall to check on this year’s crop.”

Sometimes what you leave out is just as important as what you put in, and that absence of questionable ingredients makes Holy Crap standard fare for athletes, diabetics, Celiac’s and Crohn’s sufferers. Even NASA’s Canadian astronaut, Chris Hadfield, enjoyed a zero gravity bowlful of Holy Crap while orbiting the Earth during his last space mission.

Not bad for a cereal with such humble beginnings. The first ten bags of Corin’s creation were sold at a British Columbia farmers market nearly five years ago. That’s where one customer exclaimed, “Holy Crap! It’s amazing,” and the couple knew they had to change the name of their cereal. Sales increased tenfold.

“We don’t have any culinary or food training,” says Brian, “but my experience working for Dairy Queen’s corporate operations and Corin’s experience in food services side of things for Air Canada certainly helped us.” Since their appearance on the CBC entrepreneurial show, Dragons’ Den, the dynamic duo has expanded with more products, more employees and more retail outlets.

“We’re a niche market, for sure, but so many people keep telling us how badly they wanted a product like ours,” says Brian. “And there’s a ton of anecdotal evidence from people reporting ailments linked to food. There’s definitely something wrong with the food chain.”

No wonder the healthy breakfast cereal market is growing. “People everywhere are more savvy when it comes to nutrition. Whether we visit Italy, Shanghai or the Middle East, everyone wants a better, healthier food for their kids to start their day.”

Winter 2014, Vol 6 N°1

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