Treats from the Alaskan Frontier – Drool Central, a Mum and Pup Barkery (part one)

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KSCO Pet Radio program interview on dog treats with Daisy Nicholas of Drool Central, January 24, 2021

DAVID COURSEY: Daisy Nicholas, the founder and owner of Drool Central. We’re going to talk about treats and about how much she loves dogs. We’re also going to talk about how Daisy got into the dog treat business.

LAURA PAKIS: it’s great to have you on the show.

I did have a chance to have my dogs try some of the treats. They loved them, but it tickled me to learn that you are in Anchorage.  I never thought of Alaska as a dog treat place.  Tell me how you got involved with you establishing a dog treat company in Alaska.

How Drool Central Evolved

DAISY NICHOLAS: Well, it started after I was cooking for humans. I used to be a professional chef. I cooked for Lodge restaurants and hotels.  After my remote Lodge experience in 2012 and 2013, I was trying to come up with something, and I said, okay, I’m tired of going to work in remote lodges.  So I go hmm, I’ll have to come up with my own small business.

At first, I thought of pastries because I had training in pastries, and I loved it.  But then there’s a lot of restrictions, especially if you’re going to do it at home. So I said, okay, I got to go and do something else. So I did research, and I said, oh, okay, since I already have a dog and I already have been cooking for my dog, maybe there’s a niche for me.

So I looked and looked and researched.  I decided to focus locally and learn who in my area is making treats and what kind of products they are using.  After looking, I said, “oh, I can do better than that and this.” Then I went ahead and started something small. I said,  “I’ll try. I’ll try this, and if I earn a little bit of money, then that’s the motivation for me.” And so I did.   I had some encouragement, but it wasn’t until I joined the popular local farmers market here in South Anchorage.  On my first day, I earned $300 at this 5-hour Market. I said I’m in business.  And that’s when you know my inspiration took off.

LAURA PAKIS: That’s amazing.  Daisy, How long have you had Drool Central?

 

DAISY NICHOLAS: I started my recipes and testing at the tail end of 2013, but I was in full business once I had joined the Market in 2014.  It was then when I started to make money.  I am still small because it’s just me.

Over the years, I have created different products because I realized not all dogs eat fish. Some dogs turn their noses up on fish, so I have to develop different products to acquire those dogs.  I started looking for other sources for locally raised animals, where I could acquire animal organs.

Now when people their pets come to my market, they step in, and I’m able to capture them because I have various treats.

LAURA PAKIS: Do you sell your treats separately, or are they sold by the pound?

DAISY NICHOLAS: I have packaged them separately for a retail store in town, but right now, I don’t have a physical brick and mortar store. I have the market, which is kind of limited in space. So I have to package them.

And now, because there’s no market and COVID, I’m doing a mobile pop-up.  I have my little van, and I’ll park in the dog park for about an hour. Right now, it’s freezing here in Alaska.  So my customers know where I’m at, and they come to me. I cannot stay more than one hour since it’s really freezing here. But it is working out well, and then, of course, I have my online shop at Droolcentral.com.

The origin of the name Drool Central, a mum and pup barkery

LAURA PAKIS: Fascinating.  But how did you come up with the name Drool Central?

 

DAISY NICHOLAS:  Well, that’s quite a story for me because I Googled to see what I could come up with something. Oh, that’s taken. Oh, that’s taken over. That’s taken. So I go, mmm.  Then something comes up in my mind, and I Google the name and see that nobody has it.  I say, “Okay, I’ll take that name,” and I added a mum-and-pup barkery.

I am so glad that I came up with the name because everyone chuckles when they see my banner’s name. That’s my first magnet.

LAURA PAKIS:  I have to say my dogs were drooling when they were tasting the treats. So, I have to agree it’s very appropriate as it explains that dogs will drool to get them.  My dogs were just crazy about everything in the sample packet you sent us.

Would you tell our listeners how these treats are different from other treats?

The difference in Drool Central dog treats

DAISY NICHOLAS: Well, I resource a lot of the ingredients locally.  In Alaska, we have a wealth of products and raw materials, especially fish. So I resource locally. I get the fish from a local company that resources the fish from local fishers from Bristol Bay, Alaska, in Kodiak.

They throw out the bone, the skin, and organs.  It is a waste to them, but they’re full of nutrients.  I said, “ I am going to join the bandwagon and help the local businesses get extra revenue by buying their waste.”  At the same time, it’s helping me come up with different products for dogs, and out of these products, I started dehydrating the Skins which you gave to your dogs from the sampler pack that I sent you, like the Cod skins. They’re very nutritious, and the dogs are obsessed with them.

And now I’m getting Salmon, and that’s another source of pure nutrients, omega-3 fatty acid.  Then there are the bones and the meat. I turn them into several products, from cookies to meals to single ingredients.   With the meals, I use not only the meat but also resource Alaska grown vegetables. We have carrots and seasonal greens. I also include Alaskan grown locally raised animal products, like beef organs, pig organs. I sometimes add eggs and goat milk.

I always tell people my dog is healthier than me. She gets the Alaskan grown eggs.  She gets fresh products right from the farmers. I, on the other hand, buy grocery store food that isn’t so fresh.

LAURA PAKIS: that’s funny, but I think a lot of us do that.

 

DAISY NICHOLAS:  I also don’t add artificial preservatives to my products. I use real food.  My dog is now 14, and she doesn’t suffer from many ailments as most dogs do.  She’s very healthy.

 LAURA PAKIS: How long do the treats last than if you don’t have preservatives in them?

DAISY NICHOLAS: Well, I use the natural preservative vitamin E in my products.  It has a shelf life of about six months since the treats are dehydrated.  But I don’t have to worry about that since my products sell so fast at the market.

LAURA PAKIS: . How did you come up with these recipes? You’re using different products that are local but unusual.

DAISY NICHOLAS: I used to be a chef, so I make everything original.  I have to do a lot of research. My dog is the first and only dog that I’ve had for myself.  I needed to research what kind of food she’s going to eat.  That was 14 years ago, and there were a lot of recalls, a lot of recalls. So I started cooking for her.  Plus, it was always in remote parts of Alaska, and sometimes, we can’t get our shipment. So I had to go directly to the source and what’s available.  Fish, it’s number one when it comes to what’s available. So I researched what’s the best way to use these ingredients to develop this product. And so I went through each one of them, and I focus on a lot of natural and organic ingredients.

Daisy’s Dog and Master Taster

LAURA PAKIS:  That’s great!  Daisy, what kind of dog do you have?

DAISY NICHOLAS: I have a yellow lab named Dallas.   She was born in Larsen Bay, Kodiak. It’s a little village. I adopted her. I used to cook for a lodge over there. She used to bring me her own dinner by going fishing.  She would go fishing for trout and salmon, and I would cook it for her.

LAURA PAKIS: I have to say you truly are a mum-and-pup barkery. I mean, you and your dog are doing this.

So how can people like our listener’s order?  And, what’s something that Dallas would suggest for them?

DAISY NICHOLAS: The top favorite is the cod skin fish chips. Dogs get so obsessed with them.  In fact, I have dog parents here ask me to come up with a bigger package.  So for the local loyal customers, I have to come up with a jumbo because for some dogs, that’s all they want.

During the salmon season, I dehydrate salmon. These are actual fillets of salmon that can’t be shipped because they are too mushy. So I buy them. There’s a lot of meat on these dehydrated fillets because they come from actual sockeye salmon. It’s a single ingredient treat, that’s it.

I also dehydrate locally raised animal products like beef livers.  And lately, my local resource has been giving me other organs, like the heart, the tongue the kidneys.  I’m not particularly eager to process this sometimes, but I always think that this is healthy and right for the pets when cooking.

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