Innovators in Food

A nutty idea: Houston duo touts tasty gluten-free products made from acorn seeds

A nutty idea: Duo touts tasty gluten-free products made of acorn seeds

Mighty Wild Aline Copp Mimi Brown
Aline Copp, left, and her sister Mimi Brown started Mighty Wild to market acorn-based products. Courtesy photo
Mighty Wild
Original flavor crackers on a cheeseboard.  Courtesy photo
Mighty Wild
Acorn flour.  Courtesy photo
Mighty Wild Aline Copp Mimi Brown
Mighty Wild
Mighty Wild

For a certain segment of the dining public, foods that are both vegan and gluten free are necessary for medically-necessary dietary reasons. Many more people are trying to minimize their gluten intake as part of more general changes to their diets, even if they aren't specifically allergic to it.

To cater to that growing demand, two Houstonians, sisters Aline Copp and Mimi Brown, have cast their eyes towards oak trees, but it isn't wood that they're seeking. Instead, it's the seeds. 

 Acorns: they're not just for squirrels anymore.  

Acorns: they're not just for squirrels anymore. 

Copp and Brown started a company called Mighty Wild to market products made with acorn flour. Copp traces her interest in acorns as a food to the fifth grade when her teacher presented the children's novel My Side of the Mountain. In tribute to the protagonist, Copp's teacher served acorn pancakes. As an adult who loves the outdoors, she rediscovered her interest in consuming the nuts, which were long a staple of ancient diets. 

"During R&D we tested anything and everything we could think of (a few examples being acorn pancakes, bread and cookies), before we eventually selected crackers as our first product category to enter," Browns tells CultureMap in an email. "What is delicious about acorn flour, is that when paired with other ingredients, it creates a truly unique and nutty flavor profile that has not been tasted in the gluten-free or non-gluten-free categories." 

After testing various flavors of their crackers at the Urban Harvest farmers market, Copp and Brown settled on an original that's topped with black sesame seeds, poppy seeds and millet, spicy chipotle and rosemary and caramelized onion.

During a tasting at the CultureMap office, our staff preferred the rosemany and onion, although all three flavors disappeared pretty quickly. Credit the seasoning and satisfying crunch for our enjoyment of them.

Kickstarter lessons

All that's left is to build out the necessary infrastructure to produce the crackers in a large enough quantity to sell online and through traditional retail outlets. To achieve that goal, Mighty Wild has launched a Kickstarter campaign. In addition to crackers, the incentives include T-shirts, tote bags and contributions to reforestation programs (to produce more acorns, among other benefits).

 With two weeks to go, the company's Kickstarted campaign is at $41,000 and climbing.  

Unlike some other local campaigns that don't attract enough support to reach their funding goal, Mighty Wild has already achieved its target of $25,000, which means that everyone who contributes will get his or her reward. With two weeks to go, the company is at $41,000 and climbing. Brown credits the company's success to careful preparation. 

"After speaking with several companies that had successful crowdfunding campaigns, a key takeaway was to try to get to at least 25% of one's funding goal in the first 24 hours in order to be selected as a featured project," she writes.

"Most Kickstarter contributors will be a mix of individuals from one's personal and professional networks as well as strangers turned fans because they're inspired by your idea. We're honored to have both supporting us."

Brown adds that if Mighty Wild reaches $50,000, the company will be able to plant double the number of trees it could at the $40,000 level.

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