Lynn Sojak doesn’t have a sweet tooth.
And that’s a good thing, too. She has Type 1 diabetes.
Nuts aren’t her favorite, either.
“I couldn’t even stomach nuts,” Ms. Sojak said.
But these were only small obstacles for Ms. Sojak, who started making brittle out of her Perrysburg Township home a few months ago.
Her small business, Brittle Love, is growing and already sold in several Toledo businesses with Ms. Sojak hoping to eventually expand to other local coffee shops and grocery stores.
The business, with just her as the staff, has produced almost $3,000 in revenue since Valentine's Day.
“I like the idea of local people wanting a locally made product,” said Ms. Sojak, a 1974 Perrysburg High School graduate.
The idea started about six years ago when Ms. Sojak made brittle for her neighbors for the holidays.
In February, her son, Dustin Hostetler, needed something a little fancy for a special Valentine’s Day dinner at Grumpy’s Deli.
Mr. Hostetler owns Grumpy’s, along with Ms. Sojak’s two sisters, Jennifer Shemak and Sara Bauman.
They thought of quirky ideas, such as sticking brittle bits on salad or ice cream, for the private dinner for their customers.
In the end, Ms. Sojak opted for heart-shaped cookie cutters and cut out brittle for party favors for the dinner guests.
Voila. Brittle Love began.
“It’s all sort of a play on Brittle Love,” said Ms. Sojak, 56. “Love can be brittle. You can love brittle.”
With a background in marketing and graphic design, she created the package labels herself.
She cooks the brittle, 2 pounds at a time, in her kitchen.
“I wouldn’t do it if it weren’t fun,” she said. “This is my encore career.”
Business has grown by word of mouth with Ms. Sojak figuring she sold roughly nearly 1,000 bags, worth $5 each. Individual pieces are on sale for 75 cents each.
Grumpy’s, which has been in Ms. Sojak’s family for 30 years, sells the brittle as well as two Toledo coffee shops, Plate 21, 3664 Rugby Dr., and the Bleak House Coffee, 520 Madison Ave. Occasionally, she also sells at the Erie Street Market.
Ms. Sojak loves to try new flavors and recipes. Sometimes on grocery store trips, she hunts through the aisles, looking for new ideas that might translate into her sweets.
“I can’t help myself. It’s bizarre,” Ms. Sojak said. “What’s out there I may not have thought of?”
Occasionally, the experiments go wrong, like the time Ms. Sojak tried wasabi peas-flavored brittle.
“Oh, it was just horrible,” she said, laughing.
But her passion for finding new tastes has created her nine flavors: pistachio cashew, chipotle peanut, almond java, peppered bacon, mango, cranberry almond, cherry cashew, pecan, and traditional peanut brittle.
To place orders or get on an email list to find out when Ms. Sojak is selling at the Erie Street Market, contact her at email@example.com or by calling 419-450-1961.
Contact Gabrielle Russon at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 419-351-0361 or on Twitter @GabrielleRusson.