Although the headquarters of Little Bird Kitchen is affectionately referred to as The Nest, it’s anything but cozy. The small commercial kitchen at the end of Fairchild Road in Plainview is sterile, sparse and noticeably chilly inside. But everything they make is full of heat.
“Chocolate likes the temperature to be nice and cold,” says Corey Meyer, who owns and operates Little Bird Kitchen with his wife Sara. “It’s all about the chocolate—so we deal.”
Little Bird has been in operation since 2012, turning out strange and unexpected treats like their flagship Fire Bites, which are small morsels of dark, milk, or white chocolate mixed with candied jalapeno peppers and sea salt. They use the same candied jalapenos to make sweet and spicy peanuts; a chocolate Fire Bark; and a finely-ground candied jalapeno seasoning that might be sprinkled over popcorn, grilled veggies, or used as a steak seasoning.
At Little Bird Kitchen, the jalapeno is king. It’s in everything they make.
“At this point, we’re able to process about 1,500 to 1,800 pounds in about three days,” says Corey.
Production is in full swing on a recent Thursday afternoon while the two entrepreneurs sit in the front office of their kitchen and discuss the company’s humble beginnings. A large window overlooks the production room where several employees clad in white coats, gloves and hairnets are busy packaging one of the company’s newer products: a spicy trail mix that incorporates their candied peanuts and Fire Bites, along with dried pineapple and almonds. Like many small businesses, Little Bird Kitchen started as a hobby.
“I was a busy, working mom of twins, and I needed something just for me,” says Sara. So she started a food blog, and began exploring different recipes and writing about them. Around the holidays one year, she made candied orange peel as a gift for her husband. “Once I figured out the process, I went on a bit of a candying kick.”
“She candied absolutely everything,” Corey chimes in. “I always told her, we should probably keep the kids out of the kitchen—because they would have been candied, too.”
Eventually, Sara’s fixation led her to candy a few left over jalapenos one night, despite Corey’s apparent lack of support in the endeavor. After deciding to dip them in chocolate, a batch of the homemade spicy treats made it into Sara’s office. Her coworkers soon wanted to place orders.
“I went home that night and said, ‘I think we might have a business here,’” says Sara.
Since then, Little Bird has thrived on taking its products directly to the public. They move agilely between different markets by attending festivals and trade shows like the annual Snack and Sweets Expo in Chicago, the Fiery Foods and Barbecue show in Albuquerque, and New York City’s Hot Sauce Expo.
“Bringing the product directly to the consumer is so satisfying,” says Corey, who often brings along his 12-year-old daughter Emily to help hand out products. “Everything we make is either medium or mild. It’s a warm build, not a slap in the face. They taste it, and eventually their eyes light up when they find the heat. It’s great to watch.”
One of their more exciting new products is a simple syrup made with a healthy dose of candied jalapeno powder.
“It’s a fantastic mixer,” says Sara, adding that her father likes to mix the syrup up with Wild Turkey bourbon and fresh lime juice, a beverage he aptly named Hot Turkey. “It made for a pretty interesting holiday.”