Move over boysenberries; Girlsenberries are hitting the grocery store shelves.
When Westlake businessman Don Sorkin founded a new startup company, a memory of grocery shopping with his mother prompted him to create a new product called Girlsenberries Preserves.
His idea turned out to be successful. The product was picked up by Kroger last year and is sold in 176 Ralphs stores throughout Southern California.
What is a girlsenberry you might be wondering? Well, it’s not a real berry.
Sorkin created a canned berry brand that brings together four classics: strawberries, blackberries, blueberries and red raspberries.
Girlsenberries Preserves isn’t Sorkin’s first venture. In 1986 he founded Dandees Diapers, a company that sold a range of diapers in different colors.
The entrepreneur was semi-retired when the concept of Girlsenberries Preserves came to his mind, and the isolation of the pandemic inspired him to bring his berries idea to the market.
That Acorn spoke to Sorkin about how his product got from the drawing board to the supermarket.
Acorn: How did you come to this in the industry?
Sorkin: With (Dandees Diapers) we did very well in the first year. My partners and I took the company public. We collected the money and did well with it. So I know how to take over a business from a startup because I did all the sales with that company. Now we are back in the supermarkets and I also know the supermarket business from my experience with Dandees.
Acorn: How did you come up with the name Girlsenberries?
Sorkin: When I was younger, my mom and I were shopping in the jams, jellies, and preserves department and we passed a boysenberry product. I asked my mom, “Why don’t they have girlsenberries?” and she said, “Well, they don’t make them.”
I’ve really thought about it. When I started developing the product, I contacted an attorney and trademarked the name.
Acorn: Tell me about the ingredients in canned girlsenberries. How did you come across this successful berry combination?
Sorkin: We used berries that everyone likes. And we have them all together in one jar. I also wanted to create something really tasty. It’s not that sweet – it’s just the right amount of sweetness. You can clearly taste the red raspberries, the blueberries, strawberries and blackberries all mixed together. You can see the pieces of fruit. Children also like it very much. The jam goes well with peanut butter, toast or on bagels.
Acorn: Where do you get the fruit from? How was this process?
Sorkin: Our manufacturers are in Utah. They source their fruit from different areas. We worked together and tested the product to make sure everything was right. I got samples from there. I took (the samples) around and Kroger really liked it. It took numerous rounds to perfect the mix of sweetness and tartness.
Acorn: How was it finally seeing your product on the shelves?
Sorkin: It’s like the product is finally born. It’s like a baby – it takes nine months of hard work and then it’s finally here.
Well, that’s my little baby. Finally seeing it on the shelf makes me really proud. Especially if people buy it and enjoy it. But I spoke to Kroger and I think the price is too high at the moment. We will get the product reduced. . . and we are in talks to expand Girlsenberries Preserves to other supermarkets.
Acorn: Have you come up with the slogan for your product?
Sorkin: Yes. I remember hearing Wendy’s “Where’s the beef?” years ago. Advertisement. And then there was Tony the Tiger’s “They’re grrreat!”
Well I wanted my little catchphrase to be ‘It’s deeeelicious’.’
Come here boys, the girls are here.