Words by Jennifer Bakos
Photography by Adam DeTour courtesy of Onesto Foods
Jane Ciccone is the creative entrepreneur behind the delicious gluten free cracker company: Onesto Foods.
The name Onesto means 'honest' in Italian which really fit into the company and brand’s identity creating crackers with healthy and real ingredients and creating a business with a sustainable philosophy and positive outlook.
Jane started teaching classes at her local family art center. She created a cooking curriculum with lesson plans and recipes for parents to teach with their kids which evolved into her starting her own business going into people's homes and educating them about healthy eating and decision making in the kitchen. After minimizing the amount of processed foods they were eating as a family, they started to miss the crunchy cracker type products they had loved to have with other snacks and dips. She would bring sample cracker recipes into the classes she was teaching to see what the moms and dads and students thought. She tested between doing the wheat crackers and gluten free and everyone loved the gluten free! Once they settled on a recipe after many tests and trials and errors, they began to sell at farmers’ markets and eventually were able to stock their product in a few stores. They were doing everything from home at night, putting on their hairnets and gloves and individually packaging and labeling each item. After many nights of balancing family life and business, they were seeking a new place to make their product. While sitting in church, Jane realized there was a kitchen there that was hardly being used. She put together a business plan and the church approved her using the space. Her mom had recently retired from her own baking company and came in to help work on baking. Eventually they outgrew the kitchen at the church and had hired some people to help as well. Things were moving fast! Now they work with a co-packer in Vermont, Jane teaches a team to make the crackers using her methods and recipes, and now they have 4 distributors around the US. It’s truly a 'from the ground' up story!
Something we love:
The boxes they use are only printed with wind power and all the prints are made with vegetable dye. If you recycle or compost it, there wont be chemicals going into the ground. FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) Certified paper – the paper is printed with practices that for every tree that is cut down a percentage goes back to help maintain the nation’s forests. Employees are treated fairly and there are methods in place for proper re-growth and sustainable forestry.
A few questions with Jane:
What do you enjoy most about your business:
Meeting people like you and just the enthusiasm over a cracker. People get so passionate about a cracker but its not just the cracker it’s what it represents and how we are producing it and the packaging. I love to meet people that are excited about what we are doing and who want to hear and help our story. No day is the same and I like that. I also love that my kids are being exposed to different foods and culinary community that we meet and work with.
What do you love about New England and working in New England?
My true love for New England has been evolving – I grew up in Andover and my husband grew up in Worcester and we got married and 5 weeks later we moved to San Fran and wanted nothing to do with New England. We never thought we would come back and we only visited for holidays or vacations and then we started to realize it’s like in your blood you can’t get rid of it! We decided maybe we should go back and see how it goes and so we moved home and it ended up snowing 27 inches the next day. We thought we were going to move back to the West Coast and my husband ended up getting a job in Newburyport and 12 years later here we are!
The values and work ethic of New Englanders has really been something we’ve grown to appreciate. You have to be hardy to be here and there’s such heritage and roots. I love the change of seasons and even though winter is awful when the spring comes we feel like we’ve earned it and worked for it. I also love the pride of food and farming that is present here.