Wolf Boy Provisions Makes You Feel Good about Hot Dogs Again
We interviewed Matt Baber, co-owner of Wolf Boy Provisions in Cleveland, about being an artisan, and how his work influences the way he thinks about his pets’ health and happiness.
Edible Communities: Tell us about Wolf Boy Provisions. What's your vision, and how did you get it off the ground?
Matt Baber: Wolf Boy Provisions is a Cleveland-based small business that my wife, Emily, and I started in 2014. It sprang from my interest in charcuterie and sausage making, and a desire to elevate everyday foods with ethically sourced ingredients and a chef’s commitment to the process. Our flagship product is a great example of that – it’s a naturally cured hot dog made with local, pasture-raised beef and fresh aromats and spices. Hot dogs are delicious and most people love them, but they tend to be seen as junk because they’re typically made with junk. People seem to feel bad about eating them. We wanted to create a hot dog that people can feel good about eating and sharing with their friends and family. We also offer other smoked and fresh sausages, herbs, foraged and cultivated mushrooms – primarily on a wholesale basis at the present but we hope to have these products on retail shelves in the coming months. We’re a two-person operation, so we’re still working to build that capacity.
Edible: And you have a dog and a cat! What are their names and how did you end up with them?
Matt: Rutabaga – Rudy for short – is our four year-old terrier mix. We’re not sure what combination of breeds she is, but we don’t care! We rescued her through a foster network as a puppy and she has made life so much more joyful and colorful. Snack Pack is our cat; she’s a six year-old calico that Emily adopted from another foster network shortly before we met. The two of them have really grown to love each other, but they won’t always admit it!
Edible: Have your pets ever inspired your work, and how?
Matt: Absolutely. Our pets are part of our family, and they both have vibrant personalities that make them central to our story. When we thought about the character of Wolf Boy Provisions, we wanted to convey a sense of adventure and irreverence, and not take ourselves too seriously. Rudy reflects that wild, playful nature, and it quickly became clear that she needed to be part of our business’s identity. The ‘wolf boy’ artwork in our logo is a combination of Rudy and an ornery, adventurous boy.
Edible: What do you and your pets do for fun? What's their perfect day?
Matt: Snack Pack is an indoor cat, but she gets to go outside every day for a little bit – she’s mildly obsessed with the frogs in our backyard pond. Rudy is always happy, but her perfect day is spent in the woods where she can run, jump, and roll wherever she wants. She loves to go foraging with us. It’s important that we’re both there, though – it’s not a perfect day if she spends it with just one of us.
Edible: How does your work influence how you think about your pets' health, diet, & happiness?
Matt: We care a lot about knowing where our food comes from. There is a direct connection between what we eat and how we feel both physically and mentally, and that’s not a phenomenon specific to humans. It would be incongruous to approach Rudy and Snack Pack’s health differently than we approach our own. We’re all happiest when we’re taking good care of ourselves, eating real foods, and spending time outside together!