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Crumby Business Brings New Taste

If you’ve ever been to the 16 Handles store in Jericho and topped your frozen yogurt with the crumbcake crumbs, you know why shop owner Scott Silverman has to re-order them frequently. They are that popular.

“And they always come in fresh,” he says.

It’s not surprising, since they are made just a few miles away at Laura & Co. Snacks: The Crumb Without the Cake in Glen Cove.

Owner Laura Silverstein strikes me as the kind of person you go to if you want something done and you want it done right. Three years ago, with all her children out of college, Silverstein asked the “What's next?” question. Today she has a thriving wholesale business.

Silverstein started down the path of baking crumb-based products because she is one of legions of people who like icing instead of cake—or in this case, the crumbs on top.

“I love to pull the crumb off the cake so I thought it would be fine to package just the crumbs,” she says.

Silverstein got to work developing her recipe at her home in Lattingtown. She wanted a delicious natural old-fashioned, homey flavor.

After three months of research and development, she had her crumb bars and “just crumb cake crumbs” nicely packaged for high-end shops. She hit the road, offering to give out samples of her crumb cake bars and crumb packages at local stores. The first to accept her offer was Grace’s Market in Greenvale. There she talked to customers, getting their reactions, finding out what people like and further honing her recipes. There were more demonstrations, and more stores, such as Bernard’s in Glen Head and Christina’s Epicure in East Norwich, starting to carry her products.

When Whole Foods stocked the crumbs, it was a great leap forward. "Why not sell it in bulk?" she thought, and she approached 16 Handles, the self-serve frozen yogurt chain, suggesting they use her crumbs as one of the toppings customers can sprinkle on their frozen yogurt. "Yes," was the answer.

16 Handles’ owner Silverman, who also has shops in Plainview and Port Washington, likes that he is supporting a local manufacturer. And best of all, he says, the topping is tasty. There’s real butter and unbleached flour in those crumbs. Some of the ingredients, such as the cinnamon and vanilla, are organic.

Currently Silverstein offers four-ounce individual snacks, eight-ounce containers of loose crumbs and various boxed assortments. In addition to the original flavor, there is now chocolate chip, double chocolate, walnut vanilla glazed, peanut butter and oatmeal raisin. Plans for the future include “crumb of the month” and perhaps an appearance on Shark Tank.

Silverstein encourages all would-be entrepreneurs to follow her example and go ahead and do it. “Take on the challenge,” she says. "But don’t forget to do your homework."