In 2013, Miriam Wietniewska and Sam Friedman fell in love. But they were often at odds over dessert. Sam loved sugary desserts like cookies, cakes and ice cream. Miriam would look at the ingredients and cringe – sugar, high fructose corn syrup, polysorbate 80, carrageenan? Ahhh! One night, Miriam whipped up a four-ingredient “ice cream” made of coconuts, cashews, dates and cacao. For the first time, Sam was hooked on a healthy dessert. Soon enough, friends, family, and even perfect strangers wanted MUD in their home. Today, MUD’s Coconut Mousse product line is available in more than 60 health food and grocery stores in NYC, Long Island, Upstate NY, Connecticut and growing. Its purpose is clear: to nourish people and their higher purpose—and give them sweet nourishment along the way.
Since 2015, over 20,000 people have tried MUD. They often ask: ‘Are you sure there’s no dairy or refined sugar in here?’ Yes, they are 100% sure.
Note to customers: Make sure to let MUD soften! Since they use no preservatives or gums, it gets hard in the freezer. MUD is best enjoyed thawed for 20 minutes at room temp, or even from the fridge!
RT: Who are the people behind the MUD?
M: Sam Friedman, the sweet tooth, and Miriam Kwietniewska, the health nut.
Sam is a social entrepreneur from Rockaway Beach, NY with a passion for creativity, collaboration, and commerce. Before MUD, he founded an IT platform that today is helping fund global agricultural projects. Sam has always had a big sweet tooth. Before the age of 12 he ran a chocolate-covered pretzel stand, and sold ice cream in his home town. Sam serves as MUD’s CEO and Chief Taste Tester, helping keep MUD sweet.
Miriam Kwietniewska is a soulpreneur with a passion for health and wellness. At age 9, Miriam emigrated from Poland to Long Beach, NY. Her interest in healing started thanks to her mom’s Multiple Sclerosis (MS). At the age of 23, Miriam experienced divine intervention after seeing someone heal themselves from progressive MS. She applied holistic healing principles to herself, which changed her life and led to the co-founding of MUD. Today, Miriam is coaching her mom to heal herself naturally, continuing to develop natural products, and collaborating with change-makers to awaken the collective consciousness of the planet. Miriam serves as MUD’s Chief Product Officer, helping keep MUD healthy.
RT: What makes MUD different from other dairy-free frozen desserts out there?
M: First, MUD uses whole foods, not processed derivatives. We use whole cashews and dates to preserve precious vitamins, minerals, and fiber for you! Each serving of MUD has 12 vitamins and minerals, and 4-5 grams of plant-based protein. Other dairy-free frozen desserts use liquid milks, syrups, natural flavorings and powdered gums and fibers, which have little to no nutrient density.
Secondly, MUD’s Coconut Mousse is real food that tastes like dessert. It’s organic nuts and fruits ground and whipped together for your pleasure and convenience. And we sweeten exclusively with dates, not with refined sugar or high glycemic syrup. Dates grow on palm trees in arid climates, and in Ayurveda are considered a ‘sattvic’ food (light, pure energy). Dates are low to medium glycemic and contain a lot of fiber, which helps to offset the glycemic response in the blood. In other words, although MUD’s Coconut Mousse tastes like a dessert, it doesn’t carry the negative side effect of a sugar crash. Satisfy your sweet tooth while nourishing your body.
RT: How important is it for you to source ingredients locally?
M: All of our ingredients grow in countries with a tropical climate like Madagascar, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, and Dominican Republic. The only ingredient we can currently source from the USA is our organic dates from California. When we source ingredients it’s very important for us to know where they’re coming from and how the people, crops and local environments are treated. As we grow, we learn how to ask better questions and how to source closer to the source. For instance, we source our Madagascar vanilla from a company that partners directly with small farmers via their cooperatives, and we source our organic coffee and cacao from certified fair-trade partnerships.
RT: What’s one fun thing most people don’t know about MUD?
M: Each serving of MUD’s Coconut Mousse is infused with Ocean energy. MUD is made in Rockaway Beach, a true New York City gem. Rockaway is a peninsula nestled between the Atlantic Ocean and the Manhattan skyline, making it a perfect place for nature lovers who love the creative energy of the city!
RT: What’s the latest from MUD? Anything new in the pipeline?
M: Yes! We are expanding our distribution reach, and are expected to be sold in over 500 stores in the Northeastern U.S. before the summer of 2018. Yay! On the research & development side, we are developing a new flavor line of Mousses made with unique nut and seed varieties.
RT: When you’re not noshing on MUD… What are you loving to eat right now? What are your go-to (snacks, drinks, wellness products, etc.)?
M: We love to cook at home, especially Ayurvedic-inspired meals.
For snacks we love Rhythm Superfoods Kale Chips, Lara Bars, Eating Evolved chocolates, REBBL Drinks, Harmless Harvest coco water. Our favorite Wellness products are Essential Rose Life Roll-On (smells divine!) and Bach Flower Essences.
RT: How has it been to open a business in NY State? What’s it like to be a “local” food business?
M: It’s been challenging yet rewarding. New York is such a busy place that you can find inspiration all around you, and you have millions of entrepreneurial minds at your disposal. Being local has meant a lot for us. We derive a lot of support from our Rockaway Beach community who have given us the opportunity to sell MUD at the local farm, food co-op, markets, etc. We also love meeting the local store owners that share bits of advice, wisdom, and laughter. It makes the hard days manageable, and we feel like we’re building a strong network of friends and allies. We are also part of the Long Island Food Council (LIFC) which has been invaluable in helping us scale our business. Through LIFC, we meet industry professionals who guide us, and we’re given the space to pitch and refine our ideas and strategies.
RT: So many in our community dream of starting their own local business. What’s your one piece of advice for launching a successful local biz?
M: Do it from a heart-centered place. Allow the business to choose you, not the other way around. In other words, don’t sit there and try to conjure up the best new business idea. Instead, practice self-awareness and live your life in heart-centered presence. The perfect business idea will hit you over the head!! Hopefully it won’t hurt too much.
RT: What is your wildest dream about the future of MUD?
M: One million clean, nourishing, accessible and affordable MUD products sold worldwide. All packaging is 100% biodegradable. MUD grows organizational arms to fuel positive change in food, health & wellness, agriculture, mass media, and water industries.
(Photography courtesy of Rising Tide shopper and photographer Ashley Cuoco.)