Welcome to our Start-Up Stories series where we explore the entrepreneurial journeys of successful food box entrepreneurs. Today we're sitting down with Candace Wu, the founder of Wonder Monday, a company that is revolutionizing the world of cheesecake snacks.
In this interview, Candace shares the story behind Wonder Monday, from the moment of inspiration to the process of perfecting the recipe and the importance of using real ingredients. Candace also shares the challenges of bootstrapping the company in its early days and how she was able to overcome some big roadblocks.
So, sit back, grab a snack, and enjoy this exclusive interview...
What Was The Inspiration Behind Starting Wonder Monday And Creating Cheesecake Snacks?
In 2020, in the middle of the pandemic, I quit my job to start something new. At the same time, Jonathan had just left the startup he previously cofounded. We knew we wanted to create a product together — something we could use (or eat!) every day.
The moment of inspiration came during lockdown. We finally got a chance to use a The Cheesecake Factory gift card that had been sitting in Jonathan's wallet for years. We ate a slice of their cheesecake, only to be shocked several minutes later by the nutritional information of what we'd just consumed.
Everest-sized mountains of carbs. Insulin-defying heaps of added sugar. And enough sketchy-sounding additives to spook a Twinkie.
We realized that no one had innovated on cheesecakes in decades. There were just a tiny handful of unhealthy options in the market. In fact, most people couldn't name more than a single brand. We realized that we'd all come to expect very little of America's favorite dessert.
So we decided to make cheesecake better. We would make the best cheesecake you'd ever had, minus the sugar and junk.
Can You Walk Us Through The Process Of Developing And Perfecting The Recipe For The Cheesecake Snacks?
Lots of R&D and testing in our kitchen and with our manufacturing partners!
Developing a recipe for commercialization is also very different from a recipe you make at home. In fact, it’s quite mathematical and more of a science and math problem than it is baking. We spent over a year developing our recipes and we continue to iterate.
Can You Speak To The Importance Of Using Real Ingredients And Avoiding Artificial Additives In Your Products?
The whole point of starting a food company is to create products that we’d feed our kids. We use everyday ingredients that folks can find in their pantry with impeccable taste and nutrition. Most legacy better for you products unfortunately contain a number of artificial sweeteners and additives and we’re here to change that!
How Do You Ensure That The Cheesecake Snacks Are High Quality And Nutritious While Also Tasting Delicious?
The secret behind our magical sweetness is allulose. It’s a naturally occurring “rare sugar” found in foods like figs. It tastes and bakes just like regular sugar. But because it isn’t metabolized like regular sugar, it has almost no calories or impact on blood glucose levels.
Can You Talk About The Decision To Self-Fund The Company And What That Experience Has Been Like?
It kind of happened unintentionally. When you have an idea and your first customers are knocking on your door, you just build it. You don’t wait for funding or an investor to validate your idea.
Bootstrapping a perishable consumer products company is not easy — it does require incredible operational excellence and accurate unit economics. In the early days, calculating demand and forecasting was difficult and came with challenges.
Can You Tell Us More About The Packaging Process To Ensure The Freshness Of These Cheesecake Snacks During Transit?
We take enormous pride in our cheesecake snacks and strive to deliver them in the best possible condition. Our cheesecakes are baked in small batches, flash frozen, then shipped with ice packs in a recyclable insulated liner.
What’s The Best Way To Store And Serve These Cheesecake Snacks?
There’s two ways to eat! Thawed or frozen.
If thawed, plate frozen. Then, sit them out at room temperature for 15 minutes to achieve a classic consistency. If frozen, grab ’em out of the freezer like an ice cream sandwich — perfect for eating with your hands!
Which Are Your Best-Sellers And Which Are Your Personal Favorites?
Can You Share Any Future Plans Or Developments For Wonder Monday?
We’re launching a lot of new flavors today (shh, it’s a secret!) and rolling out to retailers near you! If you’re interested in stocking us, shoot us a note!