Depending on the age, energy and “spunk” of your children, the beginning of the school year can traverse a whole range of emotions. For us, not much changes other than a bit more of a routine. But one thing—and I think I speak for most parents—is pretty universal: the snack paradox. On the one hand, a kid can be completely famished as if they just escaped a James Bond style chase through a third world country and thus DEMAND snacks upon snacks upon snacks. Seriously, it’s like their stomachs open a pocket dimension that sucks any and all sustenance. On the other hand, they won’t be hungry enough to eat a meaningful meal with the family or even alone…
The Snack Paradox: Kids Legit have two stomachs…
One thing that has changed since the mid 90’s when I and my better (prettier, smarter) half were elementary students is a focus on snack time. I don’t remember EVER having snack time outside of Pre-K. Nowadays, that’s sort of a thing at least through elementary. I think that’s a great idea. We often donate snacks to our local school to help kids who may not be so well off. We all focus better if we ain’t “hangry.”
It begs the question though—what’s a good snack? Let’s get the obvious one out there: POPCORN! Specifically, #notoothpicksrequired #awesomepopcorn. In fact, if you want to make this a reality in your kiddo’s back-to-school experience, try out SCHOOLSNACK for 50% off some of our Honestly Awesome Popcorn.
Okay, so what do you consider in a “good” snack? I guess there’s LOTS to consider but I think we can break it down into the following:
If it doesn’t taste good, kids ain’t gonna eat it and then you’ve got a hole burned through your wallet and a hungry, unfocused kid.
Filling Not Spoiling
Since it’s a snack, you don’t want something that’s so “heavy” it’ll spoil an appetite for lunch or supper after school. But you also don’t want it to be so “light” that it did no good—no kid wants to eat rice cakes!
Kids have enough energy naturally. There’s no need to turbocharge that with processed sugar and junk food. Candy bars are out and so are cookies. Besides, it doesn’t build healthy habits and can increase “brain fog” in classrooms. That said, raw vegetables may be really healthy but few kids will eat that without dips like ranch or hummus. We don’t need to count carbs for our kids, but a “healthy-ish” mentality is pretty good.
This isn’t the first concern, but hear us out. Eating is a very social experience. Sharing a meal is an important part of fellowship with friends! And, sadly, not all kids come from families with means for adequate nutrition. So sharing truly is caring. A snack that can be shared helps socialize (especially with our youngest kids) and may help poor students without making it a big deal.
A bit lower on the list but worth considering, does your snack taste good with other foods and snacks? Our #awesomepopcorn can go into a trail mix, replace potato chips, and even go with a sandwich.
Lastly, you can’t break the bank. The average school year has 180 days in it. That adds up pretty quickly.
Our Honestly Awesome popcorn really stacks up well on our list. We hope you’ll give us a thought!
We get asked about how to cook popcorn a lot. Our fine designer friend helped us out with some pretty sweet graphics to accompany the cooking instructions on our packaging, but it leaves one thing intentionally vague: cooking oil.
We were confirmed in our local churches growing up, but one bit of agnosticism remains: the best way to cook popcorn. We can’t quite pinpoint the perfect way to cook popcorn. Our go-to response is that “It Depends.” Usually, it depends on the person and your personal preference. That’s sort of a cop-out but it may be that the best answer is that you should buy more popcorn and try ALL the ways to enjoy #awesomepopcorn…in fact, how about a code for our shop in this blog?
Air Versus Oil
My general response is that all you need is even heat transfer and you can cook popcorn. A friend and professor from our University, who grew up in rural India, said his family used sand of all things to cook popcorn. Oil was too expensive and the sand helped transfer the heat on the pan to the kernels. They sifted the sand from the popped kernels and enjoyed accordingly…we haven’t tried this method, but it highlights the plethora of popcorn cooking methods.
Air popping is the standard for serious diets as there are no added calories like you get from oil popping. On the plus side, you only taste the popcorn so for our #RusticRed’s hearty flavor and #BlueBounty’s nuttier, crunch texture – that’s great. Still, air seems to sort of “force” the issue a bit and it’s easy to overcook if you’re not careful.
We’re not anti-air popping, but the traditional method cooking in oil fits our “ethos” of great food: cooking slower and better.
In general, a cooking oil will vary according to it’s “heaviness” or smoke point. Higher smoke points will cook longer and take a bit more to pop and will thus add a bit more of the cooking oil’s flavor to the final taste of the popcorn. Cooking oils can be used as flavoring agents, like on salad dressings or for baking, frying or sauteing.
Oils with lower saturated fat content and higher unsaturated fat content are healthier and Omega 3 levels are healthier than Omega 6. Another, consideration is the extent the oil is refined. A cold-pressed, extra virgin oil doesn’t undergo the chemical extraction process as a refined oil, meaning it will retain more of the flavor and nutrients from the original oil. It’s more expensive because it doesn’t yield as much oil from the underlying commodity, like corn or olive.
We made this list according to what we like and use in our home. Our quality control is our own family—if we don’t eat it AND enjoy it, we don’t sell it from our #familyfarm. It’s subjective, but honest. We know you’ll enjoy but we accept (dare I say, encourage?) the challenge for novel or different cooking oils and methods for our #awesomepopcorn.
- High Oleic Soybean Oil – soybean oil gets a bad rap. Mostly because it’s largely derived from genetically modified (GMO) sources. We are pro-GMO and pro-organic for reasons we won’t bore you with in this blog post. A better argument against soybean oil is it’s nutritional content versus other oils—that said, the High Oleic brands (which are often non-GMO by breeding selection choice, not because non-GMO alone makes it High Oleic) makes for a PHENOMENAL experience with our #awesomepopcorn. Generic, standard soybean oil doesn’t taste as good as the high-oleic, but it is what we use in product demonstrations because of cost AND because it puts out a great aroma that draws folks to taste our #awesomepopcorn. We’ve actually grown some of these high-oleic soybeans on our farm and it’s another great, full-circle experience.
- Corn Oil – corn oil is reasonably healthy, though it gets knocked a bit because it’s polyunsaturated fats are more Omega 6 than Omega 3 (don’t ask me why 3 is better than 6). We do like it because it adds to the “corny” nature of the popcorn. In fact, some co-packers when making popped popcorn for sale under contract will intentionally use corn oil because of this. It’s what our #HonestlyAwesome popcorn uses as our co-packer swears by it for ready-to-eat popcorn and, frankly, it does taste awesome. It’s not our first choice, but corn oil is great popcorn cooking oil. Use code “Corn” for 25% off each bag of #HonestlyAwesome popcorn to see for yourself.
- Sesame Oil – this one is a bit weird but hear us out. Most of you probably don’t have sesame oil in your home, but you’ve surely had it. It’s a primary cooking staple for Chinese food and it really, REALLY pairs well with our #BlueBounty popcorn. We think the slightly nutty flavor of #BlueBounty is accentuated with the sesame oil’s taste profile. When you cook with it, your kitchen will smell (amazing) like the local Happy Wok. It’s a must for #BlueBounty enjoyment—so much so that we’ll offer code “Sesame” for 25% off each bag of #BlueBounty so you can enjoy!
- Sunflower Oil – this one was formerly a bit higher on our list until the growth of high-oleic soybean oil. But sunflower has a unique flavor profile and is pretty healthy too. We have a neighbor that grows sunflowers in an effort to make his own biodiesel (he’s a SMART, COOL dude) and we get a little cold-pressed, local sunflower oil as a result.
- Olive Oil – this one needs no explanation. We almost never cook with it just because it’s so ubiquitous in cooking. We note it hear just because it’s probably one of the healthiest oils that’s also the most affordable.
- BONUS: Bacon Grease – yes, this you read this right. Cook bacon in the morning and save the grease for your evening #awesomepopcorn. It adds a distinctly smoky flavor and is obviously, obviously the least healthy option on this list. But you should definitely try it, maybe even make it a 1 in 5 #awesomepopcorn experience.
So there ya’ have it. We’re (somewhat) agnostic with regard to how you cook or enjoy our #familyfarm ‘s #awesomepopcorn. We have our favorites and would LOVE to hear yours. Enjoy!
As I look at my Wunderground (weather) App for the daily or extended forecast, there’s a feature I ignore almost entirely—the “Air Quality Index.” As we enter this first week of August, it’s a great opportunity to consider what has been in the air above our #AwesomePopcorn here on #PilotKnobFarm.
The biggest thing has been the smell. It smells not good, but not bad. Sort of earthy but not sweet, heavier but not overbearing and more evident when the air is heavier with humidity. I don’t have the proper adjectives to describe it if you haven’t lived in corn country. It’s corn (and POPCORN) pollen.
Now allergies just were never on my radar growing up on the farm. I remember as a kid getting some strange needle test where they had lots of weird looking lego-like blocks with quasi-needles that a nurse applied in a grid on my back to determine if I had allergies. My luck, I didn’t! Well, actually I sort of did, I learned many years later—when Mom jokingly said it must have been 1990’s style child-abuse—that I was mildly allergic to corn pollen and smut.
My Dad bluntly stated, “We’re a farm family,” ¯\_(ツ)_/¯so that was that and we didn’t consider all the bubble-wrap necessary to address it at that point and it worked out (I wouldn’t recommend this approach today as the testing is better!). Ironically, I later had a crop scouting business before we had children where I would walk fields during the summer for area farmers. I provided a service where I monitored the crop and made recommendations on managing pests like corn rootworm beetles or Gray Leaf Spot disease for example. I spent many, many HOT days—a few north of 110 heat index—covered in corn pollen, often emerging from fields with a cheese dust appearance (and the face of a wilted flower). Would’ve been nice to know this bit of medical history from my youth before I took that role!
Now in my mid-thirties with two little farmers of my own who both “seem” to have allergies, though mild, it’s more on my mind. Life on the farm brings fresh air for sure—which is why I’ve never cared about the “Air Quality Index” since we don’t worry about pollutants or emissions prevalent in urban areas. But it also brings pollen. Now that is a truly, wonderful thing for the farmer.
A heavy pollen drop is indicative of a good crop…but it reeks havoc on the lungs of our local, allergic neighbors. And it’s not just corn. When I walk into fields, there are pesky weeds that always manage to escape our most sincere efforts at eradication (queue up Jeff Goldblum’s quote from Jurassic Park) that drop LOTS of pollen. The worst is Giant Ragweed.
Believe it or not, there is a website that monitors pollen forecasts. If you suffer from seasonal allergies, you’re one of over 67 million Americans.
So, what to do? Pollen.com has a good list of things to help with allergies, here’s a few from their list:
- Set air conditioners to recirculate, rather than bring in new air (and pollen) constantly.
- Pollen count is highest between 5am – 10am, so limit outside exposure outside this timeframe.
- Wash your face and hands after you’ve been outside to remove pollen.
For our part, we hope y’all don’t get too upset about the corn pollen at least. Our #RusticRed popcorn pollinated very well earlier this month and is well on it’s way to a good yield.
Recognizing the allergies some of you may have, how about a little something from our family farm to dampen the pollen onset? For the next two weeks, we’ll offer our new, custom seasoning at a 25% discount per unit. It’s our “Cheesy Dust” so it reminds me of those long, hot summer days when I was bombarded and covered with corn pollen…but instead of hating the heat, this stuff plain tastes awesome.
Use Code CHEESY25 and check out all the #AwesomePopcorn and gear from our store here
Welcome to the new Pilot Knob Farm website! The previous incarnation of our site served us (and our customers) well for years, but like the seasons, change is inevitable…and this change is definitely for the better!
We’re new and improved in several important ways.
Same brand, better name
First, you’ll notice that we’ve rebranded a little bit – from Pilot Knob Comforts to Pilot Knob Farm. We’re still located at Pilot Knob, a local high point near Oneida, Illinois, as we have been since 1877, so that part will never change. While our popcorn is still the ultimate, hull-less comfort food – there’s nothing better than curling up on the couch with family (and pets) and watching a movie with a warm bowl of buttery, perfectly seasoned popcorn! – we really wanted to emphasize that we’re first and foremost an honest-to-goodness farm. The popcorn you buy from us is grown, dried, stored, and packaged on our family farm – this is REAL, authentic farm-to-table goodness from our family to yours.
You’ll see this change in the logo, where we’ve updated it to include “FARM”, as well as our new, easier-to-remember domain name (pilotknob.farm), and you’ll start seeing this update on our packaging, as well.
From plow to PC, a better website
As for the web experience…
The performance of this new website will blow your mind! We’re farmers, so we can’t get too far into the technical “weeds” (see what we did there?) about the cleaner code and the upgraded hosting (which is why we brought in some techie friends to help), but we can tell you it’s lightning fast and a lot of fun!
Honestly awesome – many asked, now we’re ready-to-eat in the bag!
You’ll find new products in our shop, like our Cheesy Dust White Cheddar Blend popcorn seasoning, 4 Seasons Everything Spice Blend seasoning, and our ready-to-eat, pre-seasoned bags of Honestly Awesome White Cheddar and Lightly Salted popcorn, as well as all of your old favorites.
Speaking of the ol’ favorites, we know you’ll like the new, simplified ordering and pricing. Instead of pre-set bundles, everything can be ordered in any increment or volume. More options and free shipping on order volumes above $50. We’re also offering some big-time discounts. Subscribe to get your favorite order delivered on an every-month or every two-month basis, along with huge discounts up to 15%! The best thing about the new shop, though, is how much better organized and easier to shop it is. Click the Shop button, and the menu that pops down gets you quickly to anything you need. And once you arrive at a product page, adding items to the cart is much easier and more intuitive than before.
We’ve also added some awesome new gear. Support family farms like us and look great doing it! From t-shirts and hoodies to hats, beanies, socks, and more, we’ve got the useful gear that you’ll actually want to wear and use—you’ll be able to “Pop it Like It’s Hot,” as never before.
Our new-and-improved FAQ page has simple videos that show how to properly pop our popcorn kernels, as well as how to pop our fun, microwavable Popcob, with other frequently asked questions that might be of interest.
Peddling popcorn (even more) locally
Finally, we’ve included a simple form for those interested in carrying Pilot Knob Farm products in their store. Reach out through our wholesale page, and we’ll be in touch ASAP to complete your order.
As always, we want to hear from you!
We put a lot of time into planting, growing, harvesting, drying, and packing the best popcorn possible. We want your shopping experience online to be just as enjoyable as our hull-less, no-toothpicks-required popcorn. We hope you love the new website and all the enhanced features. Feel free to reach out to us anytime on our contact page to let us know what you think.
When we first started thinking about sharing our specialty, hull-less popcorn beyond our circle of friends, we quickly realized we had a lot to learn. How could we best communicate about our product on the grocery store shelves? We wanted consumers to know about our family farm and the unique qualities of our popcorn. We wanted them to know the great pride and efforts we take to produce a quality product. And of course, we had to let them know the nutritional and key qualities as required by the FDA.
Four years and many eye-opening lessons later, we have learned quite a bit. As we maneuvered the food labeling process, we contacted a nutritional lab. Since popcorn’s primary nutrients–carbohydrates, fiber and protein–are largely the same, FDA allows a common nutritional label. This saved us great cost as a small family farm and we had a label in no time. Due to the extra cost, we opted not to test our popcorn specifically, but over time we want to test to see if our popcorn does in fact have higher mineral content–that would be one explanation for the stronger, better taste. But in terms of food safety and nutritional content, the USDA approved popcorn label fit the bill and that’s how we’ve started.
All labels require, among many things, an ingredient list. To this day, the quality we love the most about our nutritional label is the ingredients listing– one ingredient and one ingredient only– straight from our fields– Red Popcorn or Blue Popcorn depending on the package.
One of the areas we struggled with on our new packaging was whether or not to label our popcorn non-GMO. All popcorn is non-GMO. To date popcorn has not been modified and whether you purchase microwave popcorn or kernels such as ours, all popcorn is non-GMO. With our original packaging we opted not to label our popcorn non-GMO. Our rational? Why further mislead consumers into thinking that some popcorn is genetically modified and others are not? It’s just like labeling a banana non-GMO. Bananas have not been modified so why are some labeled gmo and others not at the grocery store? It’s just down right confusing and honestly, unfair to consumers.
Today, after answering many questions about our popcorn being non-GMO or not, with the roll out of our new packaging, we have added the non-GMO label to our packaging. Consumers want to know, so we are glad to share. And when you ask us about this we’ll be honest with you– all popcorn is non-GMO, not just ours. We’re not here to mislead a consumer into purchasing our product over another because of a label. Our motto from day one– non-GMO label or not– quality is key. Our farm is open to all technology and we proudly provide what you want most, which is a non-GMO product. But we want you to enjoy our popcorn because it tastes awesome, not because you’re worried about the non-GMO label. Quality matters more than labels!
Beyond just the GMO labeling controversy, food labels can get tricky for lots of reasons. And it’s unfortunate because the point of such labels are ultimately to help consumers make educated choices. But the marketing side of food labeling has confusion too, not just what you see as a consumer. Thinking about our popcorn, a consumer looking at our package on the shelf could ask these questions. And we as farmers before it leaves the farm often ask ourselves the same questions, but from a perspective of how we should market our farm: How much is relevant? How much is ethical?
- Is it non-GMO project verified?
Popcorn is by definition non-GMO, do we really need to pay for the special graphic with a little butterfly and checkmark to make that more true?
- Is it heart-healthy?
Is it worth the marketing dollars to promote this for a product that is one of the healthiest carbs you can ingest?
- Is it sustainable?
There’s no true definition for this accepted by anyone or any entity–it reflects our fifth generation farm’s reverence for the past and future of our farm, but it can’t be “certified”…or can it?
- Is it natural?
Again, where’s the true definition? We feel it’s appropriate since our popcorn tastes great without requiring excessive amounts of seasoning or coating. But it’s not anything that can be “certified.”
- Is it certified whole-grain?
Like “non-GMO,” popcorn is defined as a whole grain. Since you’re ingesting the seed coat of the popcorn after cooking, you’re getting all the whole-grain perks. But is it worth the marketing budget to pay for the certification emblem on your package?
- Is it vegan friendly?
None of us are vegan, but we have had many vegans happily accept free samples from us. Would it be misleading to put this label on the package? We haven’t seen any official certification process for vegan friendly products from FDA or USDA, so would it be fair to make this statement?
- Is it kosher?
Technically, we would need a rabbi to certify our product. But on a strict Biblical view, our popcorn is absolutely kosher and thus, why would we need to pay for any certification? How important is it to certain consumers that we certify a grain product as kosher when it lacks the features that would make it unclean, like meat?
- Is it anti-biotic free?
Obviously we aren’t treating plants with antibiotics, so we feel it would be unethical to place this label. But it begs the question, why is the anti-biotic free label such a big deal in the livestock sector? If by law none of your meat, eggs or dairy can be sold with any anti-biotics, why is this now a marketing thing? It wouldn’t be any different than us placing this on a bag of popcorn (disclaimer–there are real concerns about over-treating livestock with anti-bioltics and giving rise to “Super Bug,” but our farm is of the opinion that folks that go to the doctor for sniffles are as much to blame in that argument).
- Is it free-range popcorn?
To the most ridiculous point on labeling confusion, and our blog title, our popcorn is technically “free-range.” None of our farms have fences so the popcorn “could” uproot and walk away any time they wanted. As absurd as this sounds, I ask here how ethical some of these labels are on our food. Technical truths, if meant to scare individuals into a purchase, are not fair game in our opinion. Perhaps more scary still, if we did put “Free-Range Popcorn” on our bag, would that increase sales? That would indicate that many people are buying on labels out of fear (the corollary is that companies are unfortunately marketing on fear too).
While our popcorn fits all of these categories, we don’t want our packaging to turn into the dashboard of a NASCAR or a shiny billboard along the Las Vegas strip. At some point, there are too many labels and we start looking at the features instead of the actual product. We hope consumers pay attention to all these aspects of our popcorn– naturally a whole grain, gluten free, energy-producing complex carbohydrates, contains fiber, naturally low in fat and calories and no artificial additives or preservatives, and is sugar-free.
Now that’s a super snack straight from our fields that you can feel good about sharing with your family. But we hope these features are taken in totality and with respect to an awesome product taste and experience, not just based upon one feature or label category.
That’s why on our family farm, we love simplicity. Enjoy our popcorn because it comes from healthy farming so you can harvest comfort. Great memories from great food. Don’t get hung up on too many labels.
Have a question about labels and what’s on our packaging? Send us an email or give us a call. You can find our cell phone numbers front and center on our website. Most of the time we’ll answer right away but if not we’ll call you back. That’s another thing about our label over others– you can go straight to the source rather than through a corporate call center. And if our farmer says he can’t hear you and has to call you back, well he’s probably on a tractor and will call you back soon.
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PILOT KNOB COMFORTS LLC AND/OR ITS SUPPLIERS MAKE NO REPRESENTATIONS ABOUT THE SUITABILITY, RELIABILITY, AVAILABILITY, TIMELINESS, AND ACCURACY OF THE INFORMATION, SOFTWARE, PRODUCTS, SERVICES AND RELATED GRAPHICS CONTAINED ON THE SITE FOR ANY PURPOSE. TO THE MAXIMUM EXTENT PERMITTED BY APPLICABLE LAW, ALL SUCH INFORMATION, SOFTWARE, PRODUCTS, SERVICES AND RELATED GRAPHICS ARE PROVIDED “AS IS” WITHOUT WARRANTY OR CONDITION OF ANY KIND. PILOT KNOB COMFORTS LLC AND/OR ITS SUPPLIERS HEREBY DISCLAIM ALL WARRANTIES AND CONDITIONS WITH REGARD TO THIS INFORMATION, SOFTWARE, PRODUCTS, SERVICES AND RELATED GRAPHICS, INCLUDING ALL IMPLIED WARRANTIES OR CONDITIONS OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE, TITLE AND NON-INFRINGEMENT.
Pilot Knob Comforts reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to terminate your access to the Site and the related services or any portion thereof at any time, without notice. To the maximum extent permitted by law, this agreement is governed by the laws of the State of Illinois and you hereby consent to the exclusive jurisdiction and venue of courts in Illinois in all disputes arising out of or relating to the use of the Site. Use of the Site is unauthorized in any jurisdiction that does not give effect to all provisions of these Terms, including, without limitation, this section.
You agree that no joint venture, partnership, employment, or agency relationship exists between you and Pilot Knob Comforts as a result of this agreement or use of the Site. Pilot Knob Comforts’s performance of this agreement is subject to existing laws and legal process, and nothing contained in this agreement is in derogation of Pilot Knob Comforts’s right to comply with governmental, court and law enforcement requests or requirements relating to your use of the Site or information provided to or gathered by Pilot Knob Comforts with respect to such use. If any part of this agreement is determined to be invalid or unenforceable pursuant to applicable law including, but not limited to, the warranty disclaimers and liability limitations set forth above, then the invalid or unenforceable provision will be deemed superseded by a valid, enforceable provision that most closely matches the intent of the original provision and the remainder of the agreement shall continue in effect.
Unless otherwise specified herein, this agreement constitutes the entire agreement between the user and Pilot Knob Comforts with respect to the Site and it supersedes all prior or contemporaneous communications and proposals, whether electronic, oral or written, between the user and Pilot Knob Comforts with respect to the Site. A printed version of this agreement and of any notice given in electronic form shall be admissible in judicial or administrative proceedings based upon or relating to this agreement to the same extent and subject to the same conditions as other business documents and records originally generated and maintained in printed form. It is the express wish to the parties that this agreement and all related documents be written in English.
Changes to Terms
Pilot Knob Comforts reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to change the Terms under which pilotknob.farm is offered. The most current version of the Terms will supersede all previous versions. Pilot Knob Comforts encourages you to periodically review the Terms to stay informed of our updates.
Pilot Knob Comforts welcomes your questions or comments regarding the Terms:
Pilot Knob Comforts LLC
1026 Knox Road 2600 N
Oneida, Illinois 61467
Effective as of October 01, 2017
Welcome To Pilot Knob
For five generations, since 1877, our family has taken great pride in farming the rich prairie soils overlooked by Pilot Knob, a local high point near Oneida, Illinois. Our prized crop—premium, hull-less popcorn—is grown with special care and passion for a more natural taste and better texture. Most importantly, because of the thin, soft hulls, you can make new memories in complete comfort…no toothpicks required!
From Our Farm To Your Family
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If you have a question, comment, or idea, please drop us a line. Better yet, help us turn a quick contact into a real connection. Please share a memory you made while enjoying a Pilot Knob product. Our #FamilyFarm is honored to help folks like you @MakeMemoriesPop. We’d sincerely love to hear from you!
Interested to carry Pilot Knob Farm products in your store? We’d be excited to be on your shelves! Simply fill out our wholesale inquiry form to give us some information about your business, select the products you’d like, and we’ll be in touch to complete your order.