Westport Island man's Maudie’s Super Squash Scooper finds niche market
No New England kitchen should be without one, Westport Island's Art Weber said about his unique, handmade scooper, Maudie’s Super Squash Scooper. He has found a growing market for it.
The tool with a sharp, 3-inch semi-circular scraping edge and a 1-inch diameter wooden handle, or “Maudie," makes the chore of removing the seeds and stringy pulp found inside squash faster, easier and safer, too, Weber said.
The Wiscasset Newspaper caught up with him at Treats on Main Street, Wiscasset Monday morning, Nov. 26. He was there delivering more Maudie’s after the store had sold out of them.
Weber said he’s always had a knack for making things. He has worked a lot of manufacturing jobs. His inspiration to make a pumpkin scraper came out of the blue on a camping trip with his kids many years ago.
“I always liked Halloween and making jack-o-lanterns and like most people used a spoon which is a pretty tedious process. I knew there had to be a better way.”
Weber tinkered around with a number of different designs on and off over many years. By 2008, he had finalized the design and was ready to give his idea a try, marketing it as, “Stubbles Peerless Pumpkin Scraper.” He first sold it as a stand-alone tool, and for two years, as part of a pumpkin carving kit with two small saws, a candle, and the scraper, The kit was called, "Stubbles Wilderness Survival and Pumpkin Carving Tool Kit."
“People began telling me they were using the scraper not just to clean pumpkins but for all kinds of winter squash: acorn, butternut, spaghetti and so on. I realized tying the product to Halloween was limiting its market capability.”
Weber spent 2011 rebranding and repackaging his pumpkin scraper as "Maudie’s Super Squash Scooper."
“The presentation has an old-fashioned feel and I wanted a somewhat old-fashioned brand name, eventually settling on 'Maudie.' The display and web artwork depicts a young woman, Maudie, carrying an armful of squash.”
The product is made in the U.S.A. The heavy-duty plastic blade is manufactured in Texas by Epsilon Industries and the smooth wooden handles are turned in Maine, by Kingfield Wood Products in Kingfield.
“I slot and pre-drill the wood handles at my basement shop on Westport. After that I return them to Kingfield where the mill paints them in the three different colors – red, golden yellow and green – shades you typically find in squashes.”
Weber said he probably spent hundreds of hours over the years on the various aspects of the tool’s design. He initially thought the blade should be metal, but settled on plastic because it was easier to manufacture and safer to use. No one could cut themselves with it, he said.
“It’s not only sharp, but provides tremendous leverage, much better than a spoon's, because you get your fingers right behind the blade, making easy work of scraping away a squash’s stringy pulp and seeds,” he added.
Weber also makes the wooden display that holds his squash scoopers. It's designed to either hang or stand on a store counter. The display has a picture of Maudie on it and reads, "Better than a spoon" and “Made in the U.S.A.” His company's name is Magical Laboratories, Inc.
Weber sells the scooper to, at last count, about 140 small independently owned stores throughout New England. They’re available at 26 locations in Maine, including locally at Treats, Rising Tide Co-op and Fernald's Country Store in Damariscotta, Boothbay Railway Village, and Sheepscot General Store in Whitefield.
“It's entirely wholesale, I don't retail them. They ship via priority mail, but I enjoy hand-delivering them to nearby stores here in Maine,” said Weber adding he'll sell about 6,000 Maudie's this year.
Eventually he’d like to sell his Maudie’s across the country, sticking with smaller family-owned stores. He’d like to grow enough to provide a decent job to one or more people.
Before moving to Westport Island in 2015, Weber and his wife Janet, lived in Newton, Massachusetts for 25 years. They have three grown sons, all creative he said, who live in New York, California and Boston.
Learn more about Maudie’s Super Squash Scooper at Http://maudies.us/