Five Lessons Learned from Eating Dog Food
Nine years ago, Alison and I embarked on a culinary adventure. For the entire month of March, we ate only Evermore and ingredients found within the food (with exceptions for coffee and wine). We committed to one solid bowl of dog food a day—streamed as a “live feed” on our website. In homage to Morgan Spurlock’s Super Size Me documentary, we named the project Evermore Me.
Evermore Me was initially borne out of a certain amount of frustration. We were working tirelessly to put out an amazing product that was light-years ahead of other offerings but were constantly finding ourselves eclipsed by larger companies tossing around marketing jargon that diminished the value of terms like “human-grade.” In what can be described as sitcom logic, we decided that the best way to prove the value of our food would be to eat it ourselves.
We put out a press release on PR Web in early February. Nothing could have prepared us for the media tsunami that ensued. It started off with a blog post in the Poughkeepsie Journal, next a call from the NY Daily News, then a radio interview with NYC AM station 1010 WINS. As the radio segment was airing, I received a phone call at 9 am. The familiar voice on the other end turned out to be Jeanne Moos from CNN. Could she do a segment featuring us? Great, she’d be at our office in half an hour. Very few moments in the history of our company produced quite as much anxiety and scrambling—to get our home-office (and selves) ready for national television. The resulting segment aired nationwide and ran repeatedly throughout the month. Kathie Lee even ate our food on the Today Show (washing it down with wine and forgetting to mention our brand). All of this happened before March even began...
I think back to Evermore Me a lot; after all that might be my fifteen minutes of fame. Here are a few lessons from the experience:
1. Be Prepared
It’s one thing to have a great idea to get your brand out in front of the media. Being prepared for your idea to actually succeed would seem like a natural extension of this. In retrospect, we were not in the best position to capitalize on all the attention. We hadn't yet launched for wider retail distribution and didn’t even have an online store. There were so many inquiries from potential customers from all over the country, but we had no way to sell them our products.
2. Not Everyone Will “Get it”
If you have a well-crafted press release, many media outlets will pretty much just print it verbatim. Our PR made it very clear that the focus of Evermore Me was to demonstrate our ingredient quality and integrity as a company, not to sell dog food specifically for human consumption. A few publications missed the nuance. One even tried to stir mommy blog controversy by insinuating that, because of us, children might think that it’s okay for them to eat their dog’s food. (Honestly, if that food is Evermore, it is—though no young child should ever be allowed close to a dog’s food dish.)
3. Always Check the Camera
This may seem vain, but images do have a way of permanently living on the internet. We’ve generally had great experiences, but when one newspaper sent a photographer over who (to put it nicely) failed to capture a decent shot, the result was a photo in the NY Daily News (below, left) that makes me cringe to this day. Since everyone uses digital cameras, it’s very easy to look over what’s been captured—which we did for our Edible Brooklyn pic (below, right). It’s important to be in control of feeling comfortable with which images become part of public record. This is also germane to the next lesson.
4. Don’t Read the Comments (or Do So with Thick Skin)
Everyone knows anonymity of the internet is a breeding ground for poor behavior. Even inoculated with this knowledge, I was not prepared for the sting of all of the off-color, misogynistic, and downright mean comments that cropped up everywhere. To be fair, the very nature of the project armed the trolls with pretty easy pickings. We still can't figure out which of us is a ringer for Andy Samberg.
5. The Evermore Diet Is Actually Pretty Great
Full disclosure, I really dislike the taste of liver so it was a process getting to appreciate the flavor of Evermore. A little salt and hot sauce go a long way. Over the course of the month, we both slimmed down considerably, but in a completely healthy way. I also saved a ton of time and money, meal planning became much more efficient, and grocery shopping was a breeze. The culinary parameters of such limited ingredients forced me to become more versatile in the kitchen.
In fact, looking at my post-winter waistline and post-holiday wallet, it might be time to give the dog food diet another go. Want to join me? Stay tuned for original Evermore Me recipes like delicious Sweet Potato Pancakes and Nut-Free Granola Bars throughout the month!