by Leah Sottile
You're not going to get high, but you might get healthy. That's the slogan that Fran Summerday and Chris Drahos, co-owners of Legend Foods and the creators of Hempshake, have taken on to market their hemp nut-based product.
But there are a few things they'd like to clear up first about hemp-based products. For one, you can't get high from eating hemp nuts. And, no, you can't plant Hempshake and expect to grow marijuana plants in your backyard. You can try to smoke it - but then again, you can also smoke Mrs. Dash and catnip. Either way, you'll walk away feeling like a big fat idiot.
According to Summerday and Drahos, there is so much more to hemp than people want to accept. In their view, most people can't seem to get past the trumped-up generalizations spawned by Reefer Madness. But with their Hempshake seasoning product, they're hoping to show people just how beneficial hemp can be to the lives -- and diets -- of everyone.
The two met while Drahos was one of the co-owners of a vegetarian restaurant in Sandpoint. It was there that Summerday worked baking pastries and desserts for the restaurant. She'd heard of the benefits of hemp nuts and started experimenting with using them in products she baked at home. After getting a good feel for hemp nuts' nutritional value and unique flavor, Summerday started incorporating them into some of the restaurant's dessert recipes. And customers started reporting that they loved what they were eating.
"It was a selling point that there were hemp seeds in it," she says. "It was a faddy kind of thing that [people] thought was a cool thing to be a part of."
"It's not a psychoactive substance at all. There is no THC in it - it says on the bottle," she adds.
After whipping up a hemp-seed based seasoning at her house, Summerday and Drahos realized that they had a product on their hands that could be marketable to a lot of people. They decided to take the seasoning for a test ride at Thor's Pizza on Schweitzer Mountain. The results were far beyond what they had ever expected.
"Schweitzer was a great place to step into a niche and get an idea of what a consumer from a ski resort would feel about it," Drahos says. "People absolutely loved it."
Drahos says that the Hempshake became such a popular addition to Thor's Pizza that some customers would actually leave if the restaurant happened to be out of the shake.
"It was incredible, the response that we got," he says.
Aside from being attracted to the novelty of eating hemp, people seemed attracted to the hearty nutritional values of the product. In fact, no single plant can really compete with the benefits of hemp. The seed contains eight essential amino acids and is chock-full of protein. According to www.hemphasis.com, a pound of hemp seed would provide all the essential proteins, essential fatty acids and dietary fiber necessary for human survival for two weeks.
"It's like the all-in-one perfect plant for some reason," Summerday says.
Knowing the benefits of the seed gave Summerday and Drahos confidence in their offbeat product, and they decided to run with it. The pair began to develop more flavors of seasonings, shop around for packaging and started approaching health food stores and restaurants around Sandpoint with their miracle shake. The product was quickly snatched up by Yoke's and Winter Ridge Natural Foods in Sandpoint, and Pilgrim's Natural Foods in Coeur d'Alene.
The Hempshake has now grown and expanded from Summerday's original flavor. Since then, they've developed Italian, Curry, Cajun, Sea Veggie and Dessert topping counterparts.
Drahos says that marketing the hemp seed through a product like their food seasoning has been a great way get people to integrate the beneficial plant into their diet.
"If you go into anyone's fridge or cupboard, you are going to find condiments," he says. "You just grab it and you don't have to think a lot about it. Put it on salad, rice or veggies. It's just the final coat on it."
Hempshake, unlike other hemp-based products, is completely natural. Drahos and Summerday buy their seeds in bulk from Canada - that's because the Canadian seeds are grown without pesticides or herbicides, unlike the ones grown in the United States.
"All of the hemp seeds that you can get in the U.S. undergo a
desterilization process," she says. "From Canada, they don't do that."
Drahos and Summerday are currently trying to market their item to even more stores, health food catalogs and individuals in the Inland Northwest, and of course, start to wipe away the stigmas associated with hemp.
"There's nothing bad. You get your proteins. You get your aminos. And your taste buds -- they have fun, too," Drahos says.
They insist that Hempshake is so good that customers will soon find themselves adding it to everything they eat - even when they don't have the munchies.
To learn more about Hempshake or order a bottle for yourself, visit www.hempshake.com or call (208) 265-9381.
We All Scream -- Sigh. Summer is almost over. Now is the time that you can drown the seasonal reality in a cone or pint of some locally made ice cream. The boys who brought you the quaint coffee shop (imaginatively named The Shop) are now serving up homemade ice cream at their new ice cream parlor, The Scoop. Drop in and share The Scuttlebutt with them at 102 S. Perry St.
And if you're spending one of the last warm days out on Lake Coeur d'Alene, give some of the frozen custard at I.C. Sweets a lick. They make all of their ice cream, Italian ices and waffle cones on site, and they've even got an espresso bar. Check them out at 602 E. Sherman Ave., or at www.icsweets.com.
Aside from ice cream, there's one thing that Spokane couldn't love more: Manito Park. Since the South Hill sanctuary is 100 years old now, the City wants everyone to celebrate with free ice cream. Stop by the lower park picnic shelter on Aug. 14 from 1-4 pm and dig into a bowl of Mary Lou's old fashioned ice cream.
Not Just Carnie Food -- Looking for someone to cater your event, and don't want to end up with the same old cruddy carnival food? Give Pam Farnsworth a call and she'll drive her small concession trailer ("The Dawg House") right on up to your event. Sure, she serves hot dogs, popcorn and sandwiches, but she only uses the best: Longhorn Barbecue sausages, Sabrett New York-style hot dogs and yummy Stagg Chili. Call 484-4241.
Getting Better... -- A couple of our favorite local coffee roasters, Terry and Rebecca Patano of Doma Coffee, couldn't stop at just roasting quality beans. Nope, they went ahead and opened up a quaint little coffee joint in downtown Coeur d'Alene. And if that wasn't enough, they've recently added a small lunch menu to their offerings. Stop by the cafe at 501 E. Sherman and try one of their new panini sandwiches, organic salads and quiche. Or stop by for a pint or a glass of wine during their happy hour from 5-7 pm.
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Publication date: 08/12/04