By Danielle Chazen
Forget Utz, Lays and Doritos. Baltimore now has its own brand of snacks for game time. Home Team Snacks gives fans local choices to choose from, all with a Maryland taste and spin. The items are endorsed by professional athletes from Baltimore's home teams.
The first product, Pure Purple Power, a 2-ounce, grape-flavored energy shot, was launched early this year with the support of Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco. Then came Crab Curls with Cheese, a new take on the standard cheese curl with the endorsement of defensive tackle Haloti Ngata.
The company plans to launch a third snack, Crab Seeds, during the coming weeks. Crab Seeds are premium jumbo sunflower seeds that are crab flavored and are being developed in collaboration with Orioles catcher and two-time Gold Glove winner Matt Wieters. By harnessing the iconic flavor of Maryland crabs, Home Team Snacks founders Marc Heyman and Jeff Hinton are hoping to give sports fan a reason to buy local, Heyman said.
"We're a Maryland-based company as opposed to a massive conglomerate," Heyman said. "It's an opportunity to support local manufacturers and businesses, as well as different products. These snacks with crab flavoring are for those looking for something unique."
Heyman and Hinton developed Home Team Snacks after being business partners and owners of HomeGamers, a 10,000-square-foot retail store in Westminster, since it opened in 2007. The store sells sports items, including arcade games, pool tables and local team merchandise. As sports enthusiasts, the pair wanted to create something delicious and fun that could be shared at tailgates, parties, and events to convey a real Baltimore feeling, Heyman said.
"We knew little about the food industry previously, but I was inspired to do this, because I was born and raised here," Heyman said. "It took a lot of flavor testing and trial and error until we created a phenomenal product."
Once the items were developed, the company did player outreach. Getting Ngata on board was an easy sell, Heyman said, because he had an existing relationship with Heyman and Hinton, having been featured in a TV commercial for HomeGamers a few years ago.
Although having the endorsements of players has been helpful, the process of getting stores to carry these items has been challenging, Heyman said.
"It takes hundreds of hours, and speaking with different manufacturers takes a tremendous amount of time and effort," he said. "But we were motivated to bring a quality taste and product to the public."
Heyman said his hope was to bring these products into Camden Yards and M&T Bank Stadium, but for the time being, most of the vendors within the stadiums have exclusive contracts.
In the meantime, Home Team Snacks is looking to sell its items outside of the ballparks on game days. The company staff also hands out the snacks at local events, doing social-media outreach and giving away autographed prizes to spread the word about its products.
Home Team Snacks can be found at Royal Farms, 7-Eleven, Wegmans and ShopRite. The snacks are even a favorite among the nursing staff at Johns Hopkins Hospital, where they can be purchased in the gift shop, Heyman said.
To find out how to carry Home Team Snacks in your store, visit hometeamsnacks.com or call 410-871-8199.
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Issue 189: September 2013