HAMMONDSVILLE - From where Linda Freed and her sister, Debra Latynski, sit, being able to tag their gourmet pizzelles with an "Ohio Proud" label has been a game-changer.
The sisters, owners of Dolce Pizzelles Cookie Co. in Hammondsville, have been selected to participate in "Celebrate Local," a storefront in the Easton Town Center in Columbus devoted to products made or grown in the Buckeye State.
"It's very impressive," Freed said. "Their mall gets busloads of people dropped off it's like a destination for them, people go in just to spend the day. They can shop, eat, go to movies, go to restaurants ... there are just a lot of different shops up there, and when Ohio Proud contacted us, we jumped at the opportunity."
OHIO PROUD — Sisters Debra Latynski, left, and Linda Freed of Hammondsville supply stores in and around Jefferson County with Dolce Pizzelles, their line of handmade gourmet pizzelles. The women, shown here in front of their display at Riesbeck’s Wintersville store, recently were selected as vendors for “Celebrate Local,” a storefront in Columbus’s Easton Town Center showcasing products grown or produced in the Buckeye State. - Linda Harris
Traditional Italian pizzelles are flat, anise-flavored wafer cookies, a recipe the sisters made many times over the years under their mother's supervision.
Years of experimentation led them to experiment with different flavors, like chocolate, and their one-of-a-kind Dolce Pizzelles are actually folded around a chocolate hazelnut or peanut butter cream filling, hand-dipped in chocolate, topped with sprinkles or other decorations, then individually sealed for freshness.
"My sister and I came up with the recipe," Debbie said. "Ours are just a little more gourmet ... we tweaked the recipe. Nobody else makes them like we do ... ours are folded, filled and dipped."
Celebrate Local vendors must carry the "Ohio Proud" label, which means they means they must be more than 50 percent grown, raised or processed in Ohio.
"We look for (vendors) who are Ohio Proud, vendors that are Ohio companies," Celebrate Local Store Manager Connie De Jong said. "They fit the criteria, so they made sense to us."
The store is a partnership of Easton Community Foundation, the Economic and Community Development Institute and Global Gallery. Operating as a non-profit, it already has about 100 Ohio vendors "and more are applying all the time," De Jong said.
She said Dolce Pizzelles has been a hit in the Columbus market, "I think in part because they've come in and sampled the product out, particularly on Saturdays. We have high foot traffic anyway, so when people taste the product they get really excited about it."
Freed said it's been a business boon: being able to market their homemade pizzelles in a high profile location like Easton Center "gives us a new market at minimal risk to us."
"It gives us a new market for our business, an opportunity to increase sales, build awareness of our product," she said. "And it's not only for holiday giving: Once they have our product and know our name, they can go online and order."
In business about five years, Dolce Pizzelles are also stocked on store shelves at select locations in the Jefferson County area Riesebeck's in Wintersville and Toronto; Valley Wine Cellar in Wintersville; Scavati's in Follansbee; and DiCarlo's Pizza in St. Clairsville as well as the Ohio Statehouse Museum & Gift Shop and the Akron-Canton Airport.