A surprising byproduct of the Great Inflation Era, anyone?

In the age of hyperinflation, American vendors have had to come up with new ideas to increase revenue and cut expenses, including some amazing ways to utilize waste. Some consumers responded, “That’s disgusting,” while others thought, “That’s cool.
Christy Williams sells a handmade soap at her health food store in Ocean City, Md. The unusual ingredients in this soap, she says, are hard to recognize – unless you’re a dog. “I can’t smell the bacon meat in the soap,” she says, “but my dog can. If I bring the soap home, they’re like crazy.”
The somewhat stomach-churning sounding soap is cooked at an American breakfast restaurant called the Sunrise Diner, less than four miles from Williams’ organic food store in Ocean City. The diner serves a very traditional bacon breakfast with eggs and coffee. Owner Sam Delauter says he got the idea for the soap when the price of a case of bacon went up to $90 from $45 last year. He thought he might be able to squeeze a few bucks out of the leftover bacon grease during a time of hyperinflation. He pulled out his great-grandmother’s Depression-era soap recipe, dusted it off, and used it. One bar of soap fetched $5.99. “Sell 17 bars of soap and I’ll get a case of free bacon, or so I figure in my head.” That’s if the cost of production is factored in, he said.
Many vendors are looking for new revenue streams and more environmentally friendly ways to utilize waste, and as a result, some strange new products have been created. For example, vodka distilled from a dairy line, or scraps made from crabs. Consumer reaction has also ranged from enthusiasm to astonishment. Mr. Delauter said the bacon soap sparked more polarized reviews. “Some people say it’s disgusting and I don’t want it,” he said, “and others say it’s kind of cool.”
Todd Koch is a dairy farmer from Canby, Ore. He’s starting to make what he calls “cowcohol” – vodka made from whey, a byproduct of the milk line’s distillation of lactose. He learned this method from scientists at Oregon State University. “It was a don’t-even-think-about-it decision for me,” he says, “Not only is it more environmentally friendly, but we’re able to make an additional retail product out of the raw materials.” When the brewery opens this summer, he hopes to make 500 bottles a week at his TMK Dairy Farm and sell them for $39.95 a bottle. The extra income could be a big help in the current climate of higher “gas, feed, food, everything” prices.
The Dairy Distillery in Elmont, Ontario, Canada, uses a similar process to make a product called Vodkow from dairy line waste, as well as a range of flavored creamy liquors. The company also has a range of creamy liquors in various flavors.

“We were a little nervous when we first told people that the wine was made from waste, that people would think it was made from rancid milk,” says Omid McDonald, the manufacturer’s founder. However, he says, “People actually liked the recycling story.”
Jenny Tilton Flood is a dairy farmer in Clinton, Maine. She considers herself a fan of this product to some degree. “I think it’s probably not the stuff for an olive martini cocktail,” she says, “and it’s a little too sweet to drink straight.” She describes it as “perfect for blending.”
Anthony Rosen, a 35-year-old schoolteacher who lives outside Toronto, usually enjoys vodka-soda blends, which he says have a distinctly malty flavor. “Some people definitely can’t drink this,” he says, “and it definitely splits the crowd’s tastes. Some people are interested and some people definitely don’t drink it.”
This spring, the Crab Seafood Station in Fallston, Maryland, began making fertilizer from leftover crab trimmings. A local fertilizer company helped them do this. “It’s definitely a win-win,” says manager David Anderson. Every day the crabs arrive, several in each bushel (25.4 kilograms) are so dead they’re inedible. “We’re hoping they’ll come in handy, too.”

The price of a bushel of crabs has risen to $250 from $180 before the outbreak, and consumer demand is severely down. “People have a lot of discretion about when to eat crab,” he said. Crab fertilizer has provided some extra income. He said he sells 20 bags a week at $10 a cubic foot. Sunrise Restaurant in Ocean City has three pounds (1.36 kilograms) of used oil left over from frying 15  pounds (6.8 kilograms) of bacon a day. “I thought, why don’t I try it? It would give me a higher profit margin as well.” Mr. Delauter said, “You can certainly make the consumer bear the increase in your costs as well, but up to a certain point, it’s a bit too expensive.” He filters, heats and skims the bacon waste oil into an odorless lard block, then adds lye, lavender oil and wildflowers to it, and finally makes a bar of soap.
This spring, he started putting the soap in a display box next to the cash register to explain the story. A QR code on the table lets guests see a video of the soap process that he made himself. He hopes to sell it at the farmer’s market in the winter, when the restaurant is closed. A pair of sisters who ate breakfast at the restaurant during a beach vacation, Cindy and Emily Jackson, bought a bar when they left.
“You smell it.” Cindy, from Uniontown, Pa. and a school bus driver, asked Emily to smell the paper bag in her hand while she did so. “I kind of like it. It has all the scented oils that should be in it, lavender flavor, and it feels soothing.” Emily said.
The cashier, Mariam Nazkanova, said she hadn’t used it yet. “I think it’s kind of weird.” She said. She doesn’t think she felt a little grossed out just because she watched the making of it in the video, but she thinks the whole thing of soap being made with bacon is too much for her to handle.
“I think it’s nice to be able to make some money with the scraps if it’s really all fatty oil.” Another guest at the restaurant that day, Vince Murdocco, a fire inspector from Akron, Ohio, said, “They should have put it in their own restroom, that only has sanitizing soap in it now.”

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