Founders: Lori and Mark Sandler
South Salem, NY
When Lori Sandler’s youngest son, Benjamin—who was born with life-threatening food allergies—began attending toddler birthday parties, he was never able to enjoy the cake and pizza. “I saw that food allergies could potentially be socially isolating,” she says. There was nothing on the market that was totally safe for someone allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, eggs or milk that was fresh and homemade, she says. So, she took to the kitchen to bake something herself. “I had no business background, I was just a mom on a mission,” she says. For eight months, she spent up to 20 hours a day in her kitchen perfecting cookie recipes in order to get the right consistency, shelf life and taste. Today, the baked goods, called Divvies—because they’re meant to be shared and divided up—include a variety of cookies, chocolate, popcorn and cupcakes all safe for those with dietary restrictions, and they’re sold all over the country, from amusement parks to college campuses. “The best compliment we could receive is when a child doesn’t have to feel different and they’re just able to open up a package of cookies and feel safe,” she says.
Photograph by Hollie Bertram