Valentine’s Day is synonymous with chocolate. Hundreds of thousands of heart-shaped boxes are passed out every year. But what about the Americans who don’t like chocolate (they do exist; nearly 20% by some polls and estimates) or are in the mood for something new and different this year? Melissa Wedman with Mollycoddled Hash Slinger has the solution. We chatted with Wedman about how this caramel-coated business got started, and why you should think about an alternative confectionery this Valentine’s Day.
Did you always want to make candy?
I never meant to start a candy company! My dad was a foodie who always experimented with flavors in the kitchen and loved all things caramel. I lost him in 2011, and a few years later I wanted to make a sweet treat in his memory as a Christmas present. I initially set out to make rum caramel, which is a very traditional flavor, but I was out of rum — so I grabbed my husband’s whiskey. It was just an experiment to get the color, consistency and flavor right [but] the taste test was amazing. That’s how our original product, the salted whiskey caramel, was born.
How did a Christmas gift become a business?
I had friends and family asking to purchase caramel as gifts, so I started making caramel pretty regularly at home. My husband encouraged me to figure out how to make it a commercial business, but I was torn on whether I should go all in. I learned about a non-profit in Tulsa called Kitchen 66, which helps small food concepts get off the ground. I went through their program and was able to launch through their commercial kitchen within three months.
Where did you get the name Mollycoddled Hash Slinger, and what does that even mean?
I had worked for 15 years as a Pampered Chef national coach and trainer and also had a food blog at the time. “Mollycoddled” is an old word for spoiled or pampered and “hash slinger” is slang for a cook or chef. When I was ready to launch my business, I transitioned my food blog to our store’s website. Our customers were surveyed and thought that we should keep the name — it’s definitely one to remember.
What makes your candy special?
Most people haven’t ever had real candy. Our recipe is based on the original way of making caramel, which uses heavy cream and sugar with very little corn syrup. It’s buttery and melts in your mouth. Our candy is made in small batches on site and is entirely handmade and hand packaged. We have some seasonal flavors, but our salted whiskey, apple, espresso and browned butter and honey caramels are available year-round. We have a dye-free cotton candy that is made with unrefined sugar and natural extracts. Spicy sweet and regular candied pecans, “naked” toffee and hand-crafted marshmallows are also available year-round.
Tell us about your retail store.
Our mission is to support other American small businesses through our entire supply chain. A lot of ingredients are Oklahoma sourced, from Griffin corn syrup to Oklahoma-grown pecans. If not made here, it has to be sourced in America. We have pulled in so many other Made in Oklahoma products for our retail store. We put together a lot of corporate gifts and baskets, so having a wide variety of local products to offer is important.
So, business has been going well?
Yes! From September of 2016 when we opened to September of 2023, if you put all of our sold caramels end to end, it would be 135 times the height of the Devon Tower — over 844 feet! [JULIE: The Devon Tower is itself 844 feet; 135 times that would be about 114,000 feet (113,940)]
What else would you say about Mollycoddled Hash Slinger?
Supporting local comes full circle here, from our ingredients to the candy that’s made by hand. If you like to find unique gifts that make an impression and also support local, we’re a great product line that checks all of those boxes.
Contact: Visit mollycoddledhashslinger.net for store location and hours, as well as online ordering.