WEST PITTSTON — If you’d like to try a new variety of honey, perhaps drizzling it over a grilled fruit kebab or a wedge of imported cheese for a summer snack, Lisa Griffiths from igourmet suggests the Black Bee brand, which boasts a sweet backstory along with its sweet flavor.
“It’s a fabulous story,” Griffiths said Wednesday, shortly after experiencing the excitement of watching talk show host Steve Harvey introduce some young entrepreneurs from Florida on his nationally-televised show and explain their honey is available through igourmet, the West Pittston-based online retailer.
The young people work with mentor Reginald Burroughs in Kidz Zone, a program that helps them learn business skills, in the Parramore neighborhood of Orlando, which has been called a “food desert” because of limited access to fresh produce.
As one of the teens, Khristian Burke, told Harvey, too many neighborhood kids are likely to head to a convenience store to buy a sugary, processed food for breakfast. Black Bee Honey, which the teens bring to a local farmers market from an apiary outside of Gainesville, can be part of a “heartier, heathier” breakfast option, she said.
The other teen, Christopher Thornton, admitted he had thought it would be a challenge to “sell honey in the ‘hood,” but the teens sold $2,000 of honey during their first session at a farmers market.
Harvey’s show included a video clip of Kidz Zone teens sporting aprons and hair nets as they filled jars with honey and packed it into boxes.
After the talk show host became aware of the Kidz Zone honey project, Griffiths said, he wanted to help them go national.
”He knew about igourmet.com — we’ve been in business since 1997 — so he challenged them to reach out to us,” said Griffiths, who is director of sales and marketing.
Kidz Zone did reach out, and Griffiths was happy to report the group met igourmet’s standards, which included passing an inhouse taste-test of the samples and verifying that nutritional labels are correct.
“We love locally sourced foods with none of the bad stuff,” Griffiths said. “No high fructose corn syrup. Non GMO (genetically modified organisms.)
Harvey announced last week that anyone who places an igourmet order for any type of food and types the code word “beez” as they check out their order will have 10 percent of the sale go to Kidz Zone.
“We feel wonderful about that,” Griffiths said. “Any time that we can give back.”
At igourmet.com, incidentally, you can find many varities of honey, from northeastern Pennsylvania’s The Beekeeper’s Daughter to honey from Oregon and Catalonia.
The more the merrier, Griffiths said.
“What’s really interesting, what we find, is the more choices we have for our customers, the better sales are for everyone in that category,” she said “So customers are going to try The Beekeeper’s Daughter, going to try Black Bee, going to try some from other countries.
“I imagine Black Bee will show up eventually as a honey of the month.”
Black Bee Honey comes in four flavors: palmetto, wildflower, orange blossom and gallberry, which comes from a type of holly unique to Florida and Georgia. The honey is available at igourmet.com for $13.99 per one-pound jar. Proceeds of all sales are invested into the Orlando community to benefit the young people who are growing up there.
Reach Mary Therese Biebel at 570-991-6109 or on Twitter @BiebelMT