When Patrick Koster and his wife Melinda Sellers Koster began selling some of their homemade treats, they had no idea their world was about to shift. What once was a family love of creating new snacks in their kitchen was about to expand into so much more: Kringles Gourmet Snacks.
“We basically took all of our snacks and everything we mad at home and brought it to our store,” said Melinda.
They introduced their snacks, mainly a slew of handcrafted pretzels, at their Mitchell craft lemonade shop, LemonHeads, to accompany their 17 lemonade flavors.
With the shop being right across the street from The World’s Only Corn Palace during peak traveling season, tourists and locals alike got a taste and were hooked.
From there, the couple built Kringles Gourmet Snacks to share their caramel-coated and seasoning-brined pretzels with the world.
“When you get something that’s made from scratch, it’s like Grandma used to make,” said Patrick. “Your taste buds don’t know what to do with it because it’s picking up all of these tastes that you crave.”
During the pandemic, the snack sales soared despite shipping only from calls and other inquiries. Social distancing inside of their homes, people were scooping up the Kosters’s treats faster than they imagined.
“It kept getting busier and busier,” said Melinda, adding that they were taking on a few extra hands and currently have a total of 11 employees with plans to expand.
Patrick put his 18 years of marketing experience to use and built a website, which brought the business from their home to a warehouse that they have since outgrown. They plan to create 4,000 square feet of additional workspace, according to Melinda.
FIND YOUR FAVORITE FLAVOR
Savory Gourmet Seasoned Pretzels
+ Dilly Dill
+ Pepperoni Pizza
+ Seasoned Honey
+ Sour Cream & Chive
+ Tex-Mex Ranch
+ Taco Fiesta
+ And more
Savory Gourmet Seasoned Pretzels
+ Cinnamon Sugar
+ Campfire S’mores
+ Sweet Caramel
“We’re growing tremendously fast,” said Patrick. “We have prided ourselves on the fact that wherever we go, the product sells really quickly. Once people find it, they keep coming back and buying more.”
The interest in their preservative-free products is attributed to their detailed creation process and their dedication to quality and bold flavors.
“we can take our product, set it down on a table and say ‘Try it.’ There are people that don’t like pretzels that have become huge fans of our products.” -Patrick koster
“We’re the only company in the United States that does the process that we do,” said Patrick. “The pretzels sit in a brine for 24 hours, and we hand container everything. Everything we make is handcrafted.”
Patrick has curated a scratch-made caramel to pair with various sweet-flavored options, including Birthday Cake and Toasted Samoa.
RECIPE: CREAMY ZUPPA TOSCANA
Makes 7-8 Quarts
+ 22 cups of water
+ ½ tsp red pepper flakes
+ 1 tsp parsley
+ 4 tsp garlic
+ 4 tsp oregano
+ 2 tsp salt
+ ½ tsp pepper
+ ½ tsp marjoram
+ 10 chicken bouillon cubes
+ 1 small bag shredded parmesan cheese
+ 4 potatoes, peeled and diced
+ 1lb. of link sausage
+ 4 cups half and half
+ 4 sticks of butter
+ 2.5 cups flour
+ 2 cups kale or spinach
+ Add parsley, garlic, oregano, salt, pepper, marjoram, and chicken bouillon cubes to water and bring to a boil.
+ In a separate pot, boil potatoes until soft. Then drain and set aside.
+ Brown ground sausage and link sausage in a pan. Remove link sausage, slice into quarter-inch slices, and set aside.
+ In the same pan used to cook the sausage, melt four sticks of butter. Then slowly stir in the flour. It should be the consistency of a thick paste. Do not let the roux burn.
+ After the roux is ready, scrape it into the pot withAfter the roux is ready, scrape it into the pot with the seasonings, and whisk until it starts to thicken.
+ Combine the half and half with the cooked diced potatoes, sausage, and kale/spinach, and stir. Finish by stirring in the small bag of shredded parmesan cheese.
Some of their hand-picked flavors are savory, like Garden Vegetable, Ragin’ Cajun, Zesty Ranch, and Parmesan Garlic.
Melinda says Kringles boasts one of the hottest pretzel flavors in the U.S., Lucifer’s Straight Jacket. Scorchin’ Insanity, Scorpion Buffalo, and Hellfire Hot Reaper also bring the heat.
Kringles Gourmet Snacks are handcrafted in small batches and are brined for 24 hours.
“All of the seasonings that we make and create will all go into dips or cream cheese spreads, so we’ll have a whole seasoning line soon, as well,” said Patrick, who is hopeful to launch them in the holiday season. “We have our seasoned sesame sticks and seasoned nuts, so everything that we have is multi-use.”
Across five states, Kringles distributes to about 108 locations and may expand into select Hy-Vee locations, as the company reached out asking to stock Kringles pretzels.
“We don’t want to be on every street corner,” said Patrick. “That’s not our model. We select where we go, and we don’t target every business.”
“Our numbers have tripled from what they were last year, if not quadrupled, and we haven’t even hit the holiday season yet.” -Partick Koster
But as business booms, they have some ideas for how to cultivate that growth.
“We’ve talked about doing other markets—of putting a retail store in where we’d combine the LemonHeads brand and the Kringles brand,” said Patrick. “We’ve looked at the Sioux Falls market and the Omaha market.”
Patrick added, “We’re looking at potentially doing something in 2022 where we actually have a physical Kringles location.”