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Lucy and I meet one afternoon at Dolcezza to chat about her burgeoning star in the world of peanut butter: One Trick Pony! Peel back the tamper-proof foil on this conversation for insight on the world of grocery store shelves, what could inspire a lid-related nightmare (and how Judaism is involved), working with your family, and how it feels to move back to the DMV after ten years on the West Coast!
Samuel: Hi Lucy! So, what’s brought you to the DMV?
Lucy: I grew up in DC. I lived in San Francisco, then moved back to DC in March. I’d been in San Francisco for ten years and woke up after the pandemic like: Wait, where did all my friends go? I was ready for a change, I was starting this business with my brother who lives here [in DC], and my niece was born in February, so it felt like homecoming was in the cards.
Samuel: What’s the return been like? I’m sure a lot has changed in the past decade.
Lucy: It’s definitely interesting. I had a little bit of a mental block moving home – does it make me provincial? Is this me not “making it” by coming back? But I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how much I’ve enjoyed it.
The first thing that is the same – but different – is living in the same city as my parents as an adult. It’s a new horizon. It’s nice being able to have dinner with them instead of only seeing them for a week at a time. Building that relationship has been nice. The other night, [my boyfriend and I] were having a dinner party and realized we didn’t have a wine opener, so I called my mom and she drove one over. She didn’t even park; I just ran out and got it from the car. My boyfriend thought it was ridiculous, but I’m like: That’s the price she pays [in exchange] for having us nearby!
I’ve also been exploring the food scene and connecting with old friends. It has been really lovely, being back.
Samuel: What does your ideal DMV day look like right now?
Lucy: I’d wake up and head to a work out at Ambitious Athletics, then pick up my dogs, Reuben and Amos, and walk to Belmont Road Park while listening to a podcast. I grab a coffee at Dolcezza on the way back, have lunch at Le Diplomate with a scoop from Happy Ice Cream to cap it off. I play with my niece, Jojo, for a bit…and if this is a Monopoly Money day, then I get dinner at Albi, watch a couple of episodes of Bravo on the couch, and be in bed by 9:30!
Samuel: You mentioned you and your brother’s business. I saw a jar of One Trick Pony peanut butter in the Foxtrot down the street recently and was like: Oh, I’m literally about to go talk to them! So, how has that project gotten to this moment in time?
Lucy: Sometimes, I wake up and ask myself that same question. My brother, Andrew, and sister-in-law, Dani, run Call Your Mother together. My brother and I have talked about working together, but nothing came to mind for a long time. Then, we went to Argentina for my brother and Dani’s wedding. My brother is a peanut butter fanatic. He eats like five tablespoons with every meal; it is too much. We were a peanut butter household, growing up. When we were in Argentina, we were eating a lot of peanut butter, and realized: This is the best peanut butter we’ve ever had!
We started doing some research. Peanuts are indigenous to South America, so Argentina is a huge exporter of peanuts. Our peanut butter is just Argentinian peanuts and Patagonian sea salt – no oil, or sugar, or anything else added to it. [Andrew and I] had this a-ha moment that this was what we were going to do. That was in January 2022, and we spent the next eight months figuring out our supply chain and branding, then launched in November 2022 with three SKUs [Editor’s note: Basically, a unique identification code for a specific product]: Kinda Crunchy, Silky Smooth, and our “One Trick Puppy” unsalted peanut butter for dogs.
We started online, then in Call Your Mothers, and now we’ve been expanding into retail in DC and nationwide. It’s a very competitive space, so the name of the game is to just get in as many stores as you can [Editor’s note: Right before talking with Lucy, I read Benjamin Lorr’s The Secret Life of Groceries and cannot recommend it enough if you’re curious about grocery stores and how products get to shelves].
Samuel: What is working with family like?
Lucy: I feel like people always advise against it; my brother is now working with his wife and with his sister. He’s in deep. But, it’s fun. There’s no inhibition because we know each other so well. You can say what you think. Our brainstorms are definitely very wacky.
Samuel: How does your Jewishness resonate with your One Trick Pony work?
Lucy: I don’t think it is as explicit as Call Your Mother. It’s more about our values and how we run the business. To me, being Jewish means having resilience and humor. We run into so many obstacles and it’s so easy to be like: Okay, this is it! Our lids don’t fit the way we want them to, and we just ordered 30,000 of them! I’m waking up every hour of the night with nightmares about lids – not something I’d ever thought I’d be doing. But, instead of moping around, you have to be resilient, figure it out, and move on. You have to do it with a smile on your face.
Samuel: Are you a crunchy or smooth person?
Lucy: I’m going crunchy. A lot of brands have, like, a few big crunchies, but we fill our jars halfway with tiny crunchies and then fill the rest with smooth peanut butter. The people who like crunchy peanut butter are hardcore; smooth peanut butter sells better, but whenever we post something asking which people like better, crunchy people come out of the woodwork.
Samuel: Do you have a platonic ideal peanut butter and jelly sandwich?
Lucy: Now that I have to make content for Instagram with peanut butter, I’m a little bit peanut butter-ed out. I’m eating it in so many forms, doing all this taste testing. But for a straight PB&J, I’m going with toasted cinnamon raisin bread, jelly jam from this Amish family in Pennsylvania – Call Your Mother gets jam from them – and then crunchy peanut butter. Just classic.
Samuel: Do you have a peanut butter brand rival?
Lucy: I actually don’t mind Skippy and Jif. I’d rather not eat the palm oil in them but they are who they are. My father-in-law still eats Skippy; it is what it is. Whenever I [visit], they’ll put one of my jars on the counter so I don’t feel as bad but they have the huge jar [of Skippy] in the pantry. My bigger beef is with brands that put out a “natural” vibe and then still have the palm oil in them. There’s one very well known one with a man’s name. I’m sure you can think of who it is.
Samuel: You’re hosting Shabbat dinner for three people. Who are you inviting and why?
Lucy: I’d want to invite interesting women from food history: Julia Child, Ina Garten, and Alison Roman. They’re from different generations, but I grew up reading their stuff and would love to hear their feedback on the peanut butter.
Samuel: Last one. Finish the sentence: When Jews of the DMV gather…
Lucy: They play mahjong! My neighbor growing up taught me and my family how to play. Now I’m arranging lessons for a group of my girlfriends to continue the tradition to the next generation. I’m obsessed!
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