By: Amy; Transcribed by Alison Stewart | July 31, 2017
First of all, I’d like to know about the craziest or weirdest way you eat tahini.
Amy: When we first had the idea for Soom Foods, Shelby was living in Israel, and the following year I lived in Israel. We began getting really familiar with the product, and I always kept a jar in my apartment. My friends and I were into going to these things called nature parties; basically these funky, but super fun 24-hour to 48-hour electronic dance party raves. So you don’t starve, you should bring food (rather than purchasing some), so I used to make these things that my friends and I called Tahini-O’s. They were really just Honey-Nut Cheerios with tahini and honey poured all over them. I’d mix the Cheerios, tahini, and honey with my hands, lay them flat, and stick them in the freezer for as long as possible, and then I’d bring finished Tahini O’s to these festivals. While we were eating them, I would always share them with people that I met, mostly Israelis, and they were all amazed! They never used tahini that way, and to me, that solidified that we had a new approach. There was so much more to tahini than even these expert tahini-users “knew” about! It’s also just the way that I use tahini – I literally just pour some into whatever I’m making, and it makes it so delicious and obviously nutritious— tahini gives you the perfect kind of nutrients to dance for 24 hours straight!
I’d like to know about where you were and where your sisters were when you initially started the business.
Amy: The idea came around in 2011 while I was in college. The joke goes, although super cheesy, that Shelby had a business degree, Jackie was marrying a tahini expert, and I just needed a job. So Shelby was working and living in Israel, and she had met Omri who was then just dating Jackie. He was selling tahini around Israel, kind of as a small broker-distributor, so he would buy tahini from large manufacturers and then sell directly to restaurants and caterers, really creating his own complete sales network. When meeting Shelby, he obviously explained what he did and let her taste “good” tahini, and that was really the ah-ha moment. It was so much tastier than anything we’ve really tried before. And I don’t know how it came about, but Shelby thought of the name Soom Foods, and the rest is history!
Nice. It does have a nice sense of assonance to it with the repeated vowel sounds.
Amy: When I was younger, I heard that O’s are really successful in creating alliance. Apparently, there is something about O’s that people are maybe comfortable for people typing or saying, like Yahoo and Google, but I’m not sure if it’s true.
Now every time I go on Google I’m going to think it’s some sort of conspiracy with the O’s.
Amy: I know. It’s like, “Oh, they got me coming back because of those sexy O’s.”
I just believe that there’s so much opportunity for sesame to take place of other nut and seed butters. One of the things that I’ve been really excited learning about is that sesame is a drought-resistant product, so it can grow in places where there isn’t much water. It’s a great alternative to something like almonds, where they’re taking all of the water in the state of California to keep the demand for almonds in check.
I’d love to see tahini emerge as another superfood that becomes a lot more familiar, the way almond butter and cashew butter have, like in granola bars, and I think it’s already happening in salad dressings, which is exciting. I think the way people have looked to almonds for a long time, sesame and sesame paste tahini can fill that need in a more environmentally-friendly and equally nutritious way.
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