What happens when a “bored man” meets a “full spice cabinet”? A whole lot of goodness as it turns out.
On a Sunday in 2018, Norfolk Academy sophomore Walter Frazer’s older brother, home from college, asked Walter to cook him breakfast. Like any loving sibling, he “mixed some things together” and the earliest whiff of Holy Dank spice blend was born.
A “rough” recipe led to a 30-bottle giveaway, a bit of a hiatus, and then to a 2020 post-Christmas trip to Restaurant Depot. One bulk spice purchase and five or six experimental batches later and the recipe was “dialed in.” The resulting zesty blend of salt, black and cayenne peppers, celery salt, granulated garlic and onion, sesame seeds, coriander, paprika and parsley elicited the teenage idiom “That’s dank!” and the name was born.
“We cook with it every night,” says Frazer of his versatile mélange. Steak, fish, mac-and-cheese: it all gets “danked up.” But the reach is far beyond the family’s Norfolk kitchen. “I do a lot of research and then seek out professionals,” says Frazer. He recently moved what started as a home-based business to an FDA-approved commercial kitchen that he rents from the Church of the Good Shepherd, the springboard of his online business (and no connection to the “holy” moniker).
Armed with a food handlers’ permit involving a food safety class and a summer in the kitchen of Stafford’s Pier in Harbor Springs, MI, where his grandparents live—Frazer’s talent was recognized after one day of dishwashing—this young entrepreneur secured the domain name and entered the online food fray full force. In only 30 minutes, he had five orders.
“The power of social media is crazy,” says Frazer, who sent samples to TikTok food stars. Evidently, they love the stuff, featuring it in videos for their hundreds of thousands of followers. Instagram algorithm analysis indicated that 5 to 7 p.m. was an optimal time to post—the same time his friends are “getting off practice”—so Frazer posts every couple of days between 5 and 6.
“Getting everything evolved” in the bottling aspect of the business has been a “pain.” But the rewards are many, including high school friends of his father’s reaching out after 30 years to order up some Dank. “The connection has been awesome,” Frazer says.
With a self-designed label printed at a local FedEx store for his vintage-style glass bottles, a thermal printer and Shippo account, and a trademark pending for the name, this “textbook” blend might be destined for local gourmet food shops and restaurants, especially “if TikTok blows up.” On the other hand, A Walto Production, LLC, might choose to keep all sales in-house.
Though T-shirt sales are ablaze—“30 sold out in a day”—and the product itself a hot seller, the long term future of Holy Dank is unknown. Still, Frazer is philosophical: “If nothing else, it is going to be a great college essay.”
Betsy DiJulio teaches art at Norfolk Academy where Walter Frazer is a top student in one of her Art 1 classes.
Learn more at HolyDank.com or on social media @Holy.Dank.