Richard and Kate Hanley discovered what is now one of their most innovative products by accident. “One day we were cooking some mushrooms at the house, and totally burnt a batch,” says Richard Hanley, who along with his wife Kate owns a natural salad dressing company called Hanley’s Foods based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. “They oddly tasted like bacon—and my wife and I looked at each other and said, maybe we can make a salad topper out of this.” Hanley’s Foods started off selling natural salad dressings in local farmers markets around seven years ago, but has since moved into stores like Whole Foods. When Hanley overextended the mushrooms’ time on the grill last year, he and Kate were already thinking about expanding the business into other salad. The crispy mushrooms, they figured, could work as a healthier and more sustainable stand-in for people who like bacon on their salads (though if you like the classic Bac’n Bits, those have always been vegan ). [Photo: Hanley’s Foods] The Hanleys took their idea to the Louisiana State University AgCenter , an incubator that helps build out cutting-edge food ventures. There, they finessed the flavor and figured out specifics, like the […]

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