Category Archives: Hanley’s Foods

How I debuted a new product with no cash, investor, or loan

Hanley's Strawberry Vinaigrette
Hanley’s Louisiana Strawberry Vinaigrette — Taken in my backyard on my kids swing-set

Back in January, I wrote an article asking readers to vote on the next salad dressing we make. One called Greek, Crack, or a Strawberry Vinaigrette and the winner will be at the farmers market to taste and to purchase (here is the article). Almost 50% of the votes where for the Strawberry Vinaigrette, so I got to work the next few days to make the perfect batch. Once I had a batch that I was comfortable with I pitched it to my top 3 selling grocery stores, asking them to pre-order 35 cases (12 bottles per case) to help me bring this to market. I only needed two of the three stores to make my projected batch of 150 cases, without hesitation from the store managers… I got all three. Continue reading How I debuted a new product with no cash, investor, or loan

Why I’m keeping Xanthan Gum in my salad dressing

Guar gum VS Chia seeds VS Flaxseeds VS Xanthan gum
Guar gum VS Chia seeds VS Flaxseeds VS Xanthan gum

When I first bottled my salad dressing, I noticed that after a few days of bottling it, the ingredients started to separate. With the amount of cheese that is used in Sensation salad dressing, it looks really ugly after a few days.

I was proud of it at first, it definitely was a conversation starter, I was promoting it as all natural and separation is ok. Further more, I realized that when you pour it on a salad, the cheese stays on the top and the oil drops to the bottom of the bowl. At the end of that day, I realized what it is — a salad dressing, and if the taste profile isn’t what it should be, it’s not going to work.

I researched the most popular types of bonding agents/stabilizers and browsed through the isles of natural salad dressings to see what they use. By far, the most common bonding agent in salad dressings is xanthan gum. Xanthan gum is an all-purpose thickener/stabilizer for dressing, gravies, sauces, and an ideal substitute for gluten in baking.

Ok, I thought — let’s try it. I bounce the idea off a food scientist and he said xanthan gum would be a perfect fit, he gave me the recommend .5% xanthan gum per bottle. So, without testing it, I made a batch of 600+ bottles, and it was so thick we could barely sir the batch. It was unbelievable, some customers called it yogurt. Note this, xanthan gum is EXTREMELY potent and when combined with thick oils (EVOO) and a lot of cheese, it will turn your salad dressing into mayo. After doing small-batch testing, the amount I ended up using is about .13% per bottle — a little goes a long way. Continue reading Why I’m keeping Xanthan Gum in my salad dressing

How it’s made: Sensation salad dressing

This video will take you behind the scene of how we make Hanley’s Sensation salad dressing at Edible Enterprises in Louisiana.

I like to force myself to take action sometimes. On our last batch, I printed this on the back of the label “What how this bottle is made at…”, the day before coming to the factory so that I had to made a video. I really wanted to make one anyway, but I wish the quality could have been better. Sometimes you just have to go with what you have.

We shot this in a single take, no re-dos — just ran through it.

Simple Tech I used

iPhone — Video
With it capable of generating good HD video and I didn’t need any additional equipment, this was perfect for a quick camera

iRig Cast — Sound/boom mic
The iPhone mic pickups every noise around, using this inexpensive mic, it can directly face the mic towards the subject for better audio. And for $30 on Amazon, it’s well worth it. It just pops in the headphone jack of your iPhone.

Premiere Pro — Post video editing
I’m only using this because I’ve used it for many years and I’m already comfortable with Adobe Premiere Pro, however all of these edits could have been made in Apple’s free iMovie or some of the edits in YouTube’s editor.

Let me know what you think or if you have any other suggestions in the comments…

Vote on the next salad dressing

You decide the next salad dressing: Hanley's Greek, Crack, Louisiana Strawberry
Click to enlarge

I’m back in the kitchen like a mad scientist perfecting the perfect batch, and my girls are the toughest food critics on the planet. If they like it, I know you will. But the style, and flavor profile is unique to everyone, so I wanted to have a vote.

I hand-craft and design each bottle from the ingredients, to the packaging/design, to bottling it. So this gives me the advantage of perfecting every aspect of the product from scratch to the store shelf. Now I can invite others to help me with that process — which I think is pretty cool.

My 4 year old randomly changed her favorite color from purple to blue and she wanted to know if I can make a blueberry salad dressing. So, as a bonus, imagine a Blueberry Vinaigrette similar to the Strawberry, but substituting the strawberries and pecans for blueberries and almonds.

It would mean a lot to me if you could take out 5 seconds and vote on the next salad dressing. The contest ends 1/27, two weeks from now and I’ll post back the results here.

Vote, share, ask questions in the comments — you guys are the ones that help decide on the next salad dressing. And I’ll let you know when I’m handing out free samples at the farmers market on 2/2/13 (in Baton Rouge) to try it.

[ UPDATE: The contest is over, the winner is Strawberry Vinaigrette and you can now get it online at]