Awesome Food Inventions and Innovations by Entrepreneurial Women

These Clever Female Food Pioneers Define Entrepreneurial Success

Discover some passionate, brilliant food inventors and business leaders — who also happen to be women.

Are/were these women simply innovative and skilled or does gender had something to do with their talent and success? Read on and see which traits and skills common to entrepreneurial success each story highlights.

Pro tip: Have some food on hand as you may be hungry by the end. Or hungry to start a business.

1
Edible Biodegradable Tableware Invented by LOLIWARE

LOLIWARE edible compostable tableware and cups
LOLIWARE takes a bite into the compostable tableware market. LOLIWARE

Leigh Ann Tucker and Chelsea Briganti are making product design history with their edible plate ware and cups. At the 2015 Expo West tradeshow, they took won the NEXT Accelerator Natural Products Business School Pitch Slam. Then Shark Tank investors chipped in $600,000 for a chunk of the company. 

LOLIWARE began when founders Chelsea Briganti and Leigh Ann Tucker won a 2010 Jell-O competition. The Industrial Designers experimented with gelatin and discovered its translucent, moldable, edible, and biodegradable properties.

Realizing gelatin's potential to create an edible cup as a fun, flavored  sustainable alternative to disposable cups they created LOLIWARE, using a plant-based gelatin for its structural nature, taste and vegan-friendliness.

Cups are only the beginning for these creative inventors who embody the American spirit of experimentation and innovation for the cause of a more sustainable planet.

2
Chocolate Chip Cookies Invented by Ruth Graves Wakefield

The perfect chocolate chip cookie
Ruth Graves Wakefield, inventor of the chocolate chip cookie. Susie Wyshak

We may never know if Ruth Graves Wakefield invented the original Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie on purpose (to create something different for guests dining at her in) or by accident (when she ran out of nuts). Yet I'm pretty sure we can all agree she is the most adored American woman food entrepreneur of all time.

The big idea: Wakefield showed incredible chutzpah in partnering with Nestle to get the cookie recipe on the Nestle Chocolate Morsels bag. Mind you this was in the late 1930s. No reality shows. No incubators or coaches to guide her. Nothing short of inspiring, not to mention happiness-enabling for millions of American home chefs.

Newspapers reprinted the recipe and Nestle's new products based on the recipe spread. And, well the rest is history.

See The Great American Chocolate Chip Cookie Book for more on the "trickle down" impact this pioneering woman hospitality entrepreneur has had our  economy and happiness.

3
Good For Your Teeth Lollipops Invented by Alina Morse

Alina Morse of Zollipops teeth friendly lollipops at Expo West
Girl entrepreneur Alina Morse pitches Zollipops at Expo West. Susie Wyshak

Great leaders make things happen with mastermind groups and a strong team that can make an idea come to life. Alina Morse seems to be one of those great leaders.

This young girl from Michigan was inspired to create a better-for-you lollipop after a bank teller offered her a traditional sugary sucker.

The big idea: With an entrepreneurial curiosity inherited her father, Tom Morse, Alina asked a simple question: “Dad, why can’t we make a Lollipop that is good for your teeth?”

Yes, why not? Together, they found the best possible ingredients and experimented with different flavors to create a lollipop that delivers a healthy pH level to the eater's mouth and leaves the teeth feeling clean and refreshed.

That simple idea and question became Zollipops®, a company I had the fortune to meet at the 2015 Expo West show.

4
MacroLife Naturals Invented By Sylvia Ortiz

Sylvia Ortiz, founder of MacroLife Naturals
Sylvia Ortiz, founder of MacroLife Naturals at the Natural Products Expo. Susie Wyshak

Sylvia Ortiz, CEO of MacroLife Naturals, is a nutrition and health expert, entrepreneur and renowned fitness guru responsible for a number of fitness and health industry innovations.

Sylvia developed and introduced Rebound Exercise, those awesome little trampolines you can use at home for aerobic exercises as well as founding Fit For You International, a fitness and health products company.

The big idea: Her Macro Greens and Macro Reds superfood-based nutritional supplement products are organic, vegan, gluten-free and raw powders to blend into foods or drinks. You'll find the blends, and related products, at Whole Foods Markets and other natural food grocers.

Sylvia's son, who works with her at MacroLife, advises the UCLA Nursing School on natural medicinals which are a nice show of support for the healing power of superfoods.

5
Brownie Brittle Invented By Sheila G. Mains

Sheila G's Brownie Brittle
Sheila's Brownie Brittle turned brownies into a new kind of snack. Susie Wyshak

Snacks made of brownie edges will not save the world. But they will save many waistlines. 

The big idea: Turn that extra crunchy edge from her brownie batches into a crunchy snack. Sheila's spark of inspiration evolved into a line of Brownie Brittle snacks in Chocolate Chip, Mint Chocolate Chip, Salted Caramel and Toffee Crunch flavors, sold globally in thousands of stores.

What began as a side experiment as Sheila G. Main was making brownies for fine restaurants and theme parks has reached enviable  snack success—Weightwatchers.com dubbed her Brownie Brittle™ “…the health-conscious chocoholic’s dream come true.”

The line has received numerous awards and editors picks, from publications ranging from Convenience Store News to Fitness Magazine’s which named it a Healthy Food Award Sweet Treat.

This woman food entrepreneur's success—with products in thousands of stores globally—proves the aphorism that one person's brownie edge cuttings are another person's treasure.

6
Soft American Goat Cheese Pioneered by Laura Chenel

Harley Farms chevre cheese
Harley Farms soft chevre cheese with flowers and spices. Susie Wyshak

Today you can walk into Trader Joe's and score three goat cheese crostini for around $5. Back when I was in college, we had to book trips to France to find the soft, fresh goat cheese known as chevre.

Laura Chanel pioneered the American chevre industry in the classic way that so many women-run goat farms who followed her have: It all started with a few goats. As has been the experience of so many food entrepreneurs, her big break came from a standing order from Alice Waters at Chez Panisse in the early 1980s.

From there the company grew as Americans learned to love this cheese as they do chocolate chip cookies. While she sold Laura Chenel Chevre in 2006 to a French cheese company, her legacy lives on and distribution power brings her chevre to cheese lovers nationwide.

7
Good Food Job Search Engine Invented by Taylor and Dorothy

Blue Bottle Coffee cupping
Coffee roaster employee conducting a cupping. Susie Wyshak

It's not edible but GoodFoodJobs.com has revolutionized and simplified how food businesses, restaurants, sustainable farms, grocers, and food advocacy organizations connect with new employees who are passionate about the cause of good, clean food.

Through vision, hard work and input from the community, Taylor Cocalis and Dorothy Taylor built this thriving food job search engine that surely will connect future women food entrepreneurs into building more great businesses over Good Food.

Women and Food Innovation Go Hand In Hand

This article highlights women who paved the way to invent or create unusual food products. Many thousands more have build home-based and big food and beverage businesses with ingenuity, perseverance, vision and teamwork.