People ask me all the time why I started this business. Here you go:
My Uncle Dan was the reason I tried that single can of yams my mother bought every year for him at Thanksgiving. He was the sweetest man you ever met – a dangerously sweet man – I mean, he asked me if I sang “Good Morning, Dear Teacher” to my first grade teacher every morning, and he meant it. But he fed the squirrels and was always cheerful, so I loved him. I thought, “If Uncle Dan likes yams so much, they can’t be too bad.” I didn’t see what he saw in them, but the impression was set.
I really just tolerated and ignored them until college when my friend Spot and I found a restaurant that specialized in yams. Ever since then, we sent each other cards that had yam jokes on them. Again, for me sweet potatoes were associated with laughter and joy.
Then I forgot all about them until I had kids, and I was older, and I wanted to improve my own health and start my kids off right, and I knew sweet potatoes are extremely healthful – rated the #1 vegetable by Center for Science in the Public Interest.
Of course, we had fed our kids sweet potatoes as baby food, but now they were pre-schoolers, and I just couldn’t seem to remember to buy the darn tubers. Then, when I did, I forgot to allow time to scrub the dirty things and then an hour for them to bake.
One day, I stomped my foot at myself. I mean, I’m a reasonably intelligent woman. I had a full-time job and two kids, and it didn’t usually take me 6 months to figure out how to get a vegetable cooked for my table. Why couldn’t I get this to work?
Then it dawned on me: if I had them cooked ahead of time, and in the fridge, I could easily put them in the dinner.
Then I froze. I stopped breathing, I think.
You know that little voice? The one that says, “Wait. There’s something here. Don’t move. Just wait for it to land on you.” Well, I waited. And I saw the seed of a new idea. No one is making food out of sweet potatoes. That was sometime in 2007.
I made some REALLY bad food. People said, “Keep your day job.” And they were right. It wasn’t pretty. I gave away a lot of prototype products, with my little handwritten labels. I told my friends, “It’s free, but it’s not free. You have to tell me how to make it better.” And they did.
So it developed, and improved a lot, and kept improving. Suddenly we were on to something. At the tasting parties, people wrote down their suggestions for each product. Friends urged me to start selling.
Our worldwide launch of Yummy Yammy was October 6, 2009, at Dan & Whit’s in Norwich VT. A little table outside, free samples, free stickers, free t-shirts to the first purchasers and randomly during the four hours, and we were completely sold out by the time I went home.
I did keep my day job. And five months later, when I was standing at the Lebanon Coop for a demo, and hoping I wouldn’t run completely out of product before the demo was over, it dawned on me. These people now expected me to make these products, to have them on the shelves. What to me was still just an idea I was playing around with, was to them a reality, a full-fledged, existing, exciting new thing in their lives, and they were ready for me to roll with it.
My friend the next day told me I might need to quit my job. I laughed. I mean, who quits their job in this economy? It’s not that serious, I told her.
I had another demo the next day. I did in fact sell out of everything I brought. I went home, talked it over with my husband, and gave notice the next day. It was three months before I left that great job, but I’ve been the full-time Y’Ambassador ever since.
There you go, the Yummy Yammy creation myth.
Blessed be, all you fellow Y’Ambassadors!