Bad Duck Caramel
The return to simplicity inspired Bad Duck Caramel owner, Carmen Ditzler to use her grandmother’s depression era caramel recipe.
Sometimes life’s answers are right in front of you. In Carmen Ditzler’s case, owner of Bad Duck Caramel, the answer was in an old caramel recipe passed down by her grandmother, Gerdy.
“We would make it for friends and family at Christmas time and give it away,” said Ditzler. “It was made with just the traditional four ingredients and we would cut them in little squares and wrap them in wax paper.”
One year her kids decided to sell the caramels and In a day and a half they sold 800 bars.
Despite the kids success, Ditzler wasn’t ready to dive into a new business. Her and her husband had just shut down their pesticide free tomato business in Southern Alberta, sold their house to pay off debts and were traveling around North America from Haida Gwaii to Joshua Tree in a RV with their kids to do a “detox” after years of struggle.
“We went to the Mojave desert just southwest of Las Vegas and Joshua Tree and we got in this mode where we would find somewhere beautiful to camp and just be,” said Ditzler. “We were just detoxing from all the pressures.”
At the time they were contemplating everything. Where to live, what to do to make a living and what was truly important to them.
They discovered that they were both entrepreneurs at heart, they wanted to live in a smaller community where local food was important and that their next business had to be non-perishable with very little overhead. They ended up in Creston, BC nestled in the Kootenays and decided to revisit grandma’s caramel recipe, turning their basement into a commercial kitchen.
“Part of the appeal is sharing something that is pleasure,” said Ditzler. “We have so many hang ups about food these days, but this is just four ingredients, two hours of stirring and pure pleasure for people.”
Ditzler did have to make a few adjustments to her Gerdy’s recipe to modernize it. Instead of corn syrup she uses cane syrup and instead of cutting it into small squares, she bakes it into bars and cooks it longer so it easily cracks.
“We had this sort of line in the sand that if she wouldn’t recognize what is in the bar as her recipe, then we wouldn’t put it in,” said Ditzler. “I think she’d be so excited to know what we’ve done with the recipe.”
As for the name, Bad Duck, Ditzler was inspired by the wines like Fat Bastard and Arrogant Frog. She nearly called it “Bad Dog” in honour of her coyote-cross dog that was a rascal and got into everything, but she was afraid people would think it was a dog treat. So, she called it bad duck, which inspired the slogan, ‘just quack It.’
Bad Duck now comes in four flavours, original, chocolate peppermint (inspired by Pep-Chews), salted and salted coffee. Every bar is made with natural ingredients – you can taste the butter – and are a sweet treat for road trips and aprés ski. We couldn’t choose a favourite, so we recommend you start with the original and work your way up to the salted coffee.
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