By Hannah Hollins
Twenty years ago, Marietta DeAngelo was an American exchange student living on the Stöger family farm in Austria, where the family grew pumpkins and pressed the seeds into oil. DeAngelo quickly learned that pumpkin seed oil was a much-loved condiment. “It went over everything,” she said. “On scrambled eggs in the morning, with bread and meat for lunch, drizzled in soup for dinner! For dessert, they ate vanilla ice cream with pumpkin seed oil.” When DeAngelo returned with her husband and children to visit the Stöger family farm in 2009, family members were still eating pumpkin seed oil with all their meals.
The first bottles of Stöger pumpkin seed oil to arrive in the United States came in DeAngelo’s suitcase. “We sent it away for analytical testing, and the results showed that pumpkin seed oils had the benefits Omega 3, 6, and 9,” she said.
After she introduced the product to local stores, retailers immediately began demanding bottles of it for their shelves. For the 2009 holiday season, DeAngelo ordered 216 bottles and sold them locally and to grocery stores in Manhattan. “In the beginning, I was cold calling people,” said DeAngelo. “I’d send a bottle, and they’d buy a case!”
At the 2012 Summer Fancy Food Show in Washington, D.C., Stöger Oils’ booth backed up to the Los Chileros booth. When Marietta and her husband Alan DeAngelo crossed paths with Ian Johnson and Chuck Waghorne of Los Chileros, they found that they were instantly compatible. “Los Chileros first advised us to change the bottle and the label and pick new flavors,” said DeAngelo. “We went with chile, tomato and cherry to go along with the original pumpkin seed oil.” Los Chileros served as an important mentor to Stöger Seed Oils, as the company grew into a larger company. The chile product company provided Stöger with valuable marketing resources, knowledge and distribution channels.
The new Stöger Seed Oils relaunched with a refreshed look and product selection at the 2013 Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco. The company entered into the sofi Awards judging under Los Chileros’ name. Stöger’s cherry seed oil won a sofi Gold Award for Outstanding Oil, and all four products were nominated in the Outstanding Product Line category. The wonderful reception at the Fancy Food Show brought Stöger Seed Oils into a new level of success. The company has seen a 192 percent increase in sales since January, and Stöger Oils can now be found at over 200 Whole Foods stores. As of this month, the products are also available at Williams-Sonoma.
Still, DeAngelo does not attribute Stöger Seed Oils’ success solely to the quality of the product, but rather she says that it is the teamwork and passion behind the oils that continues to move the company forward. “After the Fancy Food Show, people said we won for ‘best acceptance of the award.’ We were dancing across the stage! We didn’t do it for the money. We just love the product. We’re just loving selling it!”
For more information on Stöger Seed Oils, visit www.stogeroil.com.