Arnold family makes business of saying ‘cheese, please’

Published 9:00 am Sunday, September 19, 2021

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By Jennie Guido

There is something so southern about a cheese straw. Am I right? You see them in gift shops all over the place. You’ve enjoyed them in gift baskets from family and friends. I can promise you though, you’ve never had one quite like Sherra Arnold’s puff cheese straw.

Snap Puffed Cheese Straws have been a labor of love, trial and error, and family bonding for the Arnolds.

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Sherra explains, “I didn’t know about cheese straws growing up. It was during my twenties that I first enjoyed some made by Ginger Mims’ paternal grandmother. Years later, she and I would get together at my house to make them as gifts during the holidays. The bounty was always scant for the labor we put in but it was fun.”

Professionally, Arnold has worked in dentistry and specialized in ceramics as a certified dental technologist. However, she kept going back to her love of cheese straws and finally decided to create something to produce for more than her family.

“Over the years, I made changes to the recipe’s ratios, exchanged Oleo for butter and mechanized the mixing and pressing process,” she said. “Somewhere along the way, I stumbled upon a ‘puffed’ cheese straw that is light and airy unlike their typical dense counterparts.”

After some positive feedback, Arnold started to imagine her pastime growing to more than just something to do in the kitchen. “Occasionally I would share my fantasy with our son during car rides, and his pragmatic enthusiasm helped me believe in my vision and for the vision to gain momentum,” she shared.

“Attending the Downtown Natchez Farmers Market when it was on Commerce Street gave rise to bringing my cheese straws out for a trial run. Once the market relocated to Broadway, I mentioned it to the organizer, Eddie Burkes. He was encouraging with information on how to go about participating. This ultimately led to our first market attendance as a vendor on March 13, 2021.”

Then the real work began. “When your adult children have backgrounds in accounting, sales, marketing, graphic design, web design and integrated marketing communications, you get special treatment. So, before participating in our first farmers market, we had a business name, an LLC, a website, and an Instagram page,” Sherra said. Arnold’s brother also worked to create the logo of the company and is working on new packaging for the product.

“Coming up with a company name in a family of ‘creatives’ was quite the challenge. It was an easy decision though when my husband, Peter, noticed that the first letter of each of our names spelled SNAP – Sherra, Nicholas, Ali, Peter. Snap Specialty Foods, LLC was formed, and Snap Puffed Cheese Straws became our new favorite snack food.”

“Our daughter, Ali, orchestrated a Food Pairings Campaign carried out over the past few months. It featured her recipes, photographs, and always-clever content for chili, hummus, guacamole, a summer salad, adult mac and cheese, and refreshing berry wine spritzers.”

While the farmer’s market has been a great way to get the product out the public,

Arnold is excited to move into a retail space in the near future. “We are humbly grateful to see the growth of a network of individuals who are positively impacting our vision,” she added. “Life is good.”

Jennie Guido writes a weekly column for The Natchez Democrat.