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Gluten-free cereal a success without Dragons' Den

This article by Graham Lanktree originally appeared on Metro Ottawa's website on July 31, 2012.

Rob MacNeil, Kathy Smart, and Liam MacNeil

Photo: Graham Lanktree

Holy Crap general manager Rob MacNeil, gluten-free nutritionist Kathy Smart and Rob's son Liam are traveling across Canada selling cereal and raising awareness about celiac disease.

Holy Crap didn’t need help from the dragons of Dragons’ Den.

Since creators Corin and Brian Mullins pitched the gluten-free cereal in 2010, gluten-free products have gone mainstream and they’re now selling six tonnes a week and bringing it to the far corners of Canada in a cross-country tour. “We didn’t do the deal with them,” said Corin Mullins of the dragons. “We’ve done this on our own.” The cereal has really struck a chord with health-conscious customers, she said, because of the growing awareness and diagnosis of gluten allergies and celiac disease, which affects one per cent of Canadians.

Since gluten is found in wheat, barley, oats and rye, sufferers are limited to grains like millet, soya beans and rice. That cuts bread, beer and oatmeal out of their diet. “The last generation didn’t know about these diseases very well. It’s like lactose intolerance,” said Dr. Farah Hosseinian, assistant professor of food science and nutrition at Carleton University. ”So I think gluten products will stay long-term.”

As gluten free options have increased on store shelves and restaurant menus, Mullins is looking to the U.S. “We have it in 21 stores in the States, but we’d like to expand that,” she said noting that Holy Crap is in 1,500 Canadian locations.

In a trip across Canada, Holy Crap general manager Rob MacNeil is taking the cereal across Canada with his 12-year-old son. “People with any kind of digestive issue from celiac to diabetes,” he said, “will benefit from mixing it with yogurt or their favourite food.”


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