Date syrup. Where did you get that idea?
For our anniversary, we thought it would be fun to share a bit of the backstory of how this company came to be. We can't include all the details of the adventures we went on to get here, including near kidnappings involving camels, pick-pockets in Egyptian elevators and peculiar run-ins in Oman. We'll just stick to the basics. I apologize for the photography in advance. We'll blame it on poor technology and the fact that I never planned for anyone to see them besides maybe a grandparent or two.
In 2005, my husband Ryan was recruited to teach at the United Arab Emirates University and I had just had my first child. We packed everything up and headed for new adventures across the world. My newborn and I spent much of our time walking in a date oasis, which is also the only place with shade when you live in the desert and where you experienced the seasons of the desert. From Spring when the trees are being trimmed and pollination takes place, to the harvest when the dates have grown plump and thin, lanky men ascend the palms with machetes to cut down the beautiful fruit. We spent an equal amount of time exploring the local food markets (called "souks"). Spices filled the air and dates overflowed many of the market stalls. The ladies in the market often gathered around the twee baby inside my wrap, pinching his cheeks and smiling with their eyes from behind their abayas.
One of those days in particular, they were talking enthusiastically about the jar of pure date syrup I was holding in my hands. They told me it healed infirmities, provided nutrition, and made amazing pastries, of course. It was both a survival food of their Bedouin ancestors and a feasting dessert of ancient kings. I had a feeling right then that this might be my favorite item ever, luxurious honey-like nectar derived from the fruit of the date palm. In that part of the world (where over 95% of dates are grown), date syrup overflows. I brought some home to try, thinking I would use it as I did honey, to replace sugar in our household, which I had been doing for quite some time. I baked with it, but was blown away by the stand alone flavor profile of the thick nectar -- I started pouring it over oatmeal and quickly realized that it was amazing on pancakes and waffles. Surely something that tasted this good could not be as "healthy" as the locals were telling me. But alas, not only was it now my favorite sweetener, but I was learning that the nutritional value was very impressive, even compared to my other favored sugar alternatives.
The Land of Milk and Date Syrup.
That's Henry and Ryan and I up there in the desert almost 14 years ago. As we walked those dunes close to our home, as we often did in the winter months, I was probably thinking about something deep... like how much better the muffins I usually made with honey were going to taste with date syrup. That season of life was just the beginning of my obsession with dates and their gorgeous nectar.
As time progressed and we would make visits to the States, the devastating news we had feared was confirmed: date syrup was nowhere to be found. Sometimes I would stumble across it in a Middle Eastern grocery store, but it would often contain sugar or taste like the metal can it had come in. I knew how pure and delicious date syrup was, and I had to have it.
Time went on and conversations ensued about how we could bring the product to the US while simultaneously smuggling obscene amounts of it in our suitcases as gifts for those Americans we loved the most. Eventually we knew what we had to do. We had to at least consider the possibility of starting a US brand of date syrup. I mean, how could we keep this thing to ourselves? So (fast forwarding a few details here on sourcing the perfect date syrup including camel rides where we were almost abducted, shady business practices and strange meetings in a few different countries of the Middle East) in 2010, we test marketed the first organic certified date syrup in the US under the brand "Organics Are For Everyone". The premise was that organic food wasn't just for the elite, but just the way our great grandparents grew it, and it should be available like that for everyone. Wisely, we realized that our brand needed to sell date syrup, not an ideology. What led to our current name is a story we'll save for another day but generally speaking, by then we had been making so many everyday condiments and goods with dates that we knew we would not stop with only the syrup and that our brand was truly all and only about dates.
Alas, we officially started Date Lady in July of 2012 and to date we now offer date sugar, date paste, smoked maple date syrup, California Barhi Dates, Sweet Chili and BBQ Sauce, Coconut-Date Caramel and Chocolate Spread and a holiday fruitcake! I suspect we will not stop there! The best part about it all by far are all the people that love these products as much as we do, our dear customers that allow us to keep doing what we're doing. If you are still reading, thank you very much. We are so very thankful for you!