You can use your keyboard to see the next slide ( ← previous, → next)
Mary Waldner, 62, Paradise, CA
Lightbulb moment: After being diagnosed with celiac disease in 1994, Waldner had trouble finding good-tasting gluten-free products, so she started baking her own wheat-free crackers. "I'd always had an interest in healthy cooking and baking, so I enjoyed experimenting with gluten-free ingredients like brown rice, quinoa, flaxseeds, and sesame seeds," she says. Friends who tried her creations raved about them, and on New Year's Day 1999, Waldner decided on a whim to start manufacturing them on a large scale. Her husband, Dale, supported her decision, and together they started marketing and selling the crackers.
What's in a name: While meeting with a group of female colleagues, Waldner was trying to brainstorm a creative name for her fledgling company. "Since I had gone a little mad during the start-up process, one of my friends suggested 'Mary's Cracking Up' or 'Mary's Gone Crackers,'" Waldner recalls. "I immediately loved the name because it means something: It may look like I'd gone a little crazy, but my giant leap of faith ended up working."
Up next: Since the company's inception, Mary's has expanded beyond crackers to offer more snacks, including pretzel sticks and cookies, and all are both gluten-free and vegan. "We also have a killer graham cracker coming out later this year," Waldner says.
Meet the geniuses responsible for creating the foods you just can't get enough of
Meet Justin, Amy, Lara, Peet, and the others responsible for the nut butters, frozen meals, bars, coffee, and other foods you love.