Homemade snacks from Baltimore, stamped with former US President Martin Van Buren's face
After all of the Super Bowl festivities that took place yesterday, many Americans might never want to hear the word "snack" again. This morning, however, we found ourselves munching on triple ginger cookies, spicy and smoky mixed nuts and baked cheese stamps. The goods are from Baltimore-based Kinderhook Snacks, run by Katie Horn and Marie Stratton, who started selling their baked sweet and savory fares at farmers markets in 2011. After positive reactions from customers, they've started selling their goods to stores around Baltimore—and are now expanding to the DC metro area.
A black and white portrait of Martin Van Buren, the eighth president of the United States, graces their logo. His nickname "Old Kinderhook" (derived from his hometown of Kinderhook, NY) is said to be the origin of the word "OK"—which is, coincidently, what you'll hear often when offering friends Kinderhook black pepper shortbread.
"We haven't set up any formal rules for what makes a good snack, but I can tell you that it requires lots and lots of taste testing. Using wholesome ingredients (nothing processed, no preservatives) is very important to us, as is having clean and powerful flavors," Stratton tells CH. "We like to put twists on snacking classics, like adding coarse sea salt to our chocolate chip cookies or black pepper to a classic buttery shortbread. Making things by hand is also incredibly important to us—starting from scratch with high quality ingredients and seeing the process each snack goes through, whether its toasting the spices and nuts beforehand to increase the aromatics and flavors, or giving the dough some time in the fridge to let the flavors enhance and blend before baking."
Currently, all of the snacks are baked by the two founders (with a little extra help from their part-time employee Kali) but more bakers will be added as Kinderhook expands to the DC metro area; it's comforting to know that these snacks aren't made in a factory but in someone's kitchen. Furthermore, they work with local small businesses, such as Baltimore-based Vanns Spices for all of their spices, Goin' Nuts for their chocolate needs, and with Farm Alliance of Baltimore for fresh herbs.
An assortment of snacks, which start at $9 and are made to order, are available from the Kinderhook online shop and from select local retailers in Baltimore and DC metro area. Be sure to check out their limited edition Valentine's Day snacks, like heart-shaped cherry shortbread and the "I'm Nuts About You" trio of nuts, to share with loved ones—or to indulge on your own.
Photos by Nara Shin