DORCHESTER (CBS) — It Happens Here, in Dorchester. Often known to Bostonians as simply “Dot,” it is the city’s largest neighborhood. The actor who played the scarecrow in the “Wizard of Oz” grew up there, as well as New Kids on the Block.
Dorchester was also America’s first producer of chocolate with the opening of the Baker Factory. On the other side of the neighborhood is the local start-up 88 Acres, a company putting a twist on the baking industry.
“We’re one of the only multi allergen-free bakeries in the country,” explained co-founder and CEO Nicole Ledoux. “We are free of the top eight allergens plus sesame.”
Ledoux started baking seed-based snacks for her now-husband Rob in their Back Bay basement apartment kitchen. Today, 88 Acres employs 60 people, mostly from the surrounding neighborhood, who pump out thousands of snacks every day.
Ledoux said she got the idea after an unexpected complication on her fourth date with Rob.
“We were out to dinner and his meal was accidentally cross-contaminated with nuts, so I had to rush him to the emergency room,” she explained. “It was the best way to meet your future in-laws because I got to be the hero that saved their son that day.”
Her snacks started catching on with friends, and then runners and triathletes in their community who had nut allergies.
“We focus on really high quality, super simple ingredients,” Ledoux said.
Surprisingly, most of the process is still done by hand in small batches, like Ledoux’s early days of baking at home.
You can find 88 Acres snacks in stores across the country, but it is the local impact that has made the founders most proud.
“We saw this amazing opportunity to create some really high quality jobs right here in the city,” Ledoux said. “It’s created this special environment.”