Mary’s Story

Learning I had Celiac Disease

Mary Waldner

I started my career as a psychotherapist helping others to manifest their truest selves. It took a cherished chiropractor for me to realize mine. When I was 43, my chiropractor figured out that I had celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder that had left me debilitated most of my life. Celiac disease causes an inflammatory response when ingesting gluten, a protein found in wheat (and all its cousins), barley, rye and most oats. Her wisdom and experience changed my life.

Transforming My Life

I cut out all gluten immediately, easily. I was so happy to finally understand the root of my distress. Suddenly I had energy to live my life, fully and with relish. My body was working with me instead of seemingly against me. Without even noticing the changes at first, I soon realized that I was happier and more energetic than I had ever felt. As part of my self-care (and self-discovery), I turned my lifelong passion for baking into creating all kinds of gluten free goodies—from crackers and cookies to pancakes and pretzels—I transformed my gluten recipes into delicious alternatives.
My favorite concoction was a whole grain cracker made with brown rice, quinoa, and flax and sesame seeds.

I took them everywhere. Before having the crackers, I’d watch my friends eat bread before our meals at restaurants, wishing I had something to snack on. Once I had the crackers, I’d bring them along in a little bag, munching contentedly while my friends ate the restaurant goodies. I brought them to parties and coupled them with soft cheeses, fresh guacamole, tangy salsas and other toppings provided at these events, no longer feeling deprived.

Friends Love the Cracker

People were curious—what was this textured cracker with the unusual crunch I was eating? When they tried them, everyone loved them and wanted more. I found myself returning again and again to my kitchen, making bigger and bigger batches so I could bring them to events to share. I knew I was making something special when I went to a friend’s house for dinner and her two-year-old wouldn’t stop eating them.
During the years before we started producing the crackers in our manufacturing facility, I estimate that I made well over 30,000 crackers by hand!

Magic in the Baking and the Giving

Developing the cracker recipe in my kitchen and experimenting with a wide variety of gluten-free grains, flours, and seeds, connected me to one aspect of life that I love: the bounty of the earth that offers us such a diversity of grains; not just the wheat and corn that so dominates the American diet. Our “Mother” nourishes us with an abundance of gifts. As we’ve grown our company, I’ve been privileged to meet many of the farmers who cultivate the ingredients I’ve been playing with for so many years now.

My motivation for making the crackers was the same as my motivation for being a therapist. I wanted to heal people, to help them be their greatest selves. There is magic for me, not just in the baking, but also in the giving. I love feeding people and knowing that they are truly being nourished by our food. When people eat my crackers, they love the taste and the texture, but they also love the energy that has gone into the food they are eating. Whether they can name it or not, they are feeling the connection to the earth and to the whole organic food that their bodies are hungry for!

Mary’s Gone Crackers Is Born

On New Year’s Day, 1999, I woke up with a sense of knowing. I got up to find my husband Dale to tell him, “I think we need to manufacture these crackers.”

As a natural risk taker, Dale jumped on board, and began the task of figuring out how to manifest our vision. Five years later, we had our business plan and some initial investors. I stopped taking new clients in my therapy practice, Dale quit his job as a contractor and we invested our life savings into getting the business off the ground.

Our name, Mary’s Gone Crackers, is a perfect fit on many fronts: from the outside it looked like I’d gone a little mad. But from the inside, starting this company, which was a giant leap of faith, came from a place of inner calm.

Running the Business

While we started working with a co-packing facility, we soon realized that we could better ensure the integrity of the product if we had our own facility. Today, we manufacture all our products—our organic, gluten free and vegan crackers, pretzels and cookies in our own dedicated gluten free facility.
Dale and I run the business together. He has been essential in building up the business infrastructure and managing the phenomenal growth we have experienced. I focus my energy on product and brand development, as well as meeting and interacting with you, the growing Mary’s Gone Crackers’ community.
Together, and with our fabulous team, we are manifesting a company rooted in the principles of love, integrity, generosity, trust and community.