This article was originally published in Marketing Magazine
, November 25, 2010
Holy crap: An exclamation of utter disbelief. Or, a wildly popular vegan cereal that has no gluten and actually tastes good. Demand for the cereal skyrocketed after the owner of the Boston Pizza restaurant chain offered creators Corin and Brian Mullins $120,000 for a 20% stake in their company mere moments after tasting the product. The husband and wife duo from Sechelt, B.C., appeared on CBC Television’s Dragons’ Den last week to pitch Holy Crap, a combination of chia, hulled hemp seeds, buckwheat, apples, cranberries, raisins and cinnamon.
After only a couple of bites, Dragon Jim Treliving was sold on the product created by Corin, a former flight attendant now in her 50s. “I don’t want to hear any more,” he told the Mullinses. “I want to buy it.”
The deal was the fastest struck in the history of Dragons’ Den, said producer Molly Duignan. “[Treliving] hadn’t even finished sampling the product and he basically made an offer.” Orders for the cereal have been rolling in, jumping from an average of 10 a day to 10 every minute.
More than 5,800 online orders have been placed since the show aired, said Corin Mullins. Demand has been so great that the Mullinses hired five new employees. The pair had been offered a spot on NBC’s Today Show, but turned it down because they wouldn’t have be able to keep up with an increase in demand.
Why the fuss? A 28-gram serving of the cereal has 120 calories, six grams of fat, six grams of fibre and no sodium. It’s eaten with almond, soy, hemp or cow’s milk, or over yogurt, although some consumers soak it in tea. When Corin and Brian got stuck in the ice storm in Montreal in 1998, they realized how valuable it would be to have an easy, nutritious cereal that didn’t need to be cooked. “We’ll never, ever be able to compete with large companies like Post or Kelloggs but we have our own niche.
It’s a very healthy cereal,” said Corin. “It has lots of fibre and all that stuff.” When Corin and Brian Mullins released their new cereal in early 2009, it was called HapiFoods. They sold 10 bags or so online that first day. “It was cute and everything, but people were calling and saying, ‘Holy crap, this is great,’” said Corin.
Brian, who has worked in marketing and communications, suggested they name the cereal Holy Crap, just for the summer. “We put it online and the first day it was Holy Crap, I sold over 100 bags,” said Corin. “It was the exact same recipe.”