Maria Walley grew up in an Italian American family, a.k.a, a family of amazing cooks. Mother, Grandmother, uncles, cousins – great cooks all of them. “I loved helping out. I read cookbooks for fun. I baked more than I cooked because my Mother made the meals in our house, but a dessert made by me was always welcomed.”
As an adult, Walley gravitated towards work in the food world. Working for a British cheese exporter by day, Maria was spending her nights baking – specifically, perfecting a cracker recipe. “I was never very satisfied with the crackers that were on the market, and I thought it was fun to experiment. I originally made the Beer Flats out of spent grains, but ended up liking them better with the rye/wheat flour combination that we use now.
In early 2009, the cheese exporters closed their American office and Walley found herself without a job. Rather than get bogged down, she saw the change as an opportunity. “I had always wanted to sell my crackers, and I figured this was the perfect chance to give it a go.”
Using all American-grown ingredients, and a proprietary blend of flours, sweet butter and craft beers, the Cincinnati, Ohio-based maker is committed to creating a reliably super-high quality cracker. One batch produces about 150 boxes, which is quite small compared to similar commercially made snacks, but working in such small batches allows the level of quality control that Walley insists on. “It is quite expensive to use fresh sweet butter and craft beers, and baking in small batches makes for a lot of man hours. But from recipe development to even branding and packaging, I love what we do.”
In 2015, Maria sold the brand to Panorama Foods!