Local entrepreneur launches new canned food brand

IT’S A HIT—Don Sorkin with a jar of his new product. RICHARD GILLARD/Acorn Journals

Move over boysenberries; Girlsenberries are taking over grocery store shelves.

When Westlake businessman Don Sorkin embarked on a new venture, the memory of grocery shopping with his mother led him to create a new product called Girlsenberries Preserves.

His idea turned out to be successful. The product was picked up by Kroger last year and is sold at 176 Ralphs stores in Southern California.

What is a Girlsenberry, you might ask? Well, it’s not a real berry.

Sorkin has created a brand of canned berries that combines four classics: strawberries, blackberries, blueberries and red raspberries.

Girlsenberries Preserves isn’t Sorkin’s first business venture. In 1986 he started Dandees Diapers, a company that sold a range of diapers in different colors.

The entrepreneur was semi-retired when the concept of Girlsenberries Preserves came to him, and the isolation of the pandemic inspired him to launch his brainchild of berries.

The Glans spoke with Sorkin about how his product went from the drawing board to the supermarket.

Glans: How did you get involved in industry?

Sorkin: We did very well with (Dandees Diapers) the first year. My associates and I took the company public. We collected money, and we did well. So I know how to take a business from a startup because I did all the sales with that business. Now we are back in supermarkets, and I know the supermarket business too, thanks to my experience with Dandees.

Glans: How did you come up with the name Girlsenberries?

Sorkin: When I was younger, my mom and I would go shopping in the jams, jellies, and preserves aisle, and we’d walk past a boysenberry product. I asked my mom, “Why don’t they have girlsenberries?” and she said, “Well, they don’t do that.”

I really thought about that. When I started developing the product, I contacted a lawyer and filed the name.

Glans: Tell me about the ingredients in Girlsenberries preserves. How did you stumble upon this winning combination of berries?

Sorkin: We used berries that everyone generally likes. And we put them all together in a jar. I also wanted to create something really tasty. It’s not that sweet, it’s just the right amount of sweetness. You can clearly smell the red raspberries, blueberries, strawberries and blackberries mixed together. You can see the pieces of fruit. Kids really like it too. Preserves go well with peanut butter, toast or on bagels.

Glans: Where do you get the fruit from? What was this process like?

Sorkin: Our manufacturers are in Utah. They get their fruits from different regions. We worked together, testing the product to make sure everything was fine. That’s where I got samples from. I took (the samples) around, and Kroger really liked it. It took many turns to perfect the blend of sweetness and acidity.

Glans: How was it to finally see your product on the shelves?

Sorkin: It is as if the product was finally born. It’s like a baby – it takes nine months of hard work and then it’s finally here.

Well, that’s my little baby. Seeing it finally on the shelf makes you really proud. Especially when people buy it and like it. But, I spoke with Kroger, and I think the price is too high right now. We will reduce the product. . . and we are in talks to expand Girlsenberries canned products to other supermarkets.

Glans: Have you found your product slogan?

Sorkin: Yes. Years ago I remember hearing “Where’s the beef?” from Wendy. advertising. And then there was the “They’re grrreat!” by Tony the Tiger!

Well, I wanted my little tagline to be, ‘This is deeeelicious.’

Move over, boys, girls are here.

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