With every news headline about recalled pet food—frequently made with ingredients from China—people are driven to seek out premium, U.S.-sourced and raw food and treats for dogs and cats. Let’s step away from edibles for humans to check out Stella & Chewy’s, maker of frozen raw and freeze-dried raw pet food, kibble and treats.
Based on Oak Creek, Wis., Stella & Chewy’s was originally founded in 2003 in Manhattan, New York City, by Wisconsin native Marie Moody. While living in Manhattan, she had two adult rescue dogs—Stella and Chewy—the latter of whom had health issues. Moody sought ways to improve Chewy’s health and discovered high-protein, raw food diets. There was a lack of raw pet food available at the time, so Moody frequented a butcher shop for raw meat to feed to Chewy, and his health improved. Moody began making raw pet food and distributing it to pet stores throughout Manhattan, frequently delivering via taxicab.
“Marie calls herself an accidental entrepreneur,” says Molly Mulcahy, vice president of brand marketing for Stella & Chewy’s. Moody brought the company back to her home state, and today their offices and production facilities occupy 222,000 square feet. Mulcahy affirms that the company responsibly sources grass-fed, free-range, wild and farm-raised proteins. They do not use antibiotics or ingredients from China. Stella & Chewy’s has several veterinarians on staff to help craft diets and advise on flavor palates.
Their first product, Frozen Raw Patties for dogs, resembles hamburger patties and come in eight varieties. Their freeze-dried foods line was born from a desire for convenience; people sometimes forget to take the food out of the freezer to thaw out. The freeze-dried raw patties, which come in flavors like Surf ’n Turf, can either be fed to the dog as is or rehydrated with water. Benefits of a raw food diet include a softer coat, improved breath and more energy.
The freeze-dried raw is produced through high-pressure processing, which kills salmonella and bad bacteria. The process is done in-house to ensure quality. Mulcahy adds that all Stella & Chewy’s employees, regardless of their positions, have to attend safety and quality control trainings.
The Meal Mixers line, one of their newer products, is a meal topper that gives a boost of raw nutrition to a pet’s everyday kibble. The company also makes kibble including raw coated (kibble coated with freeze-dried food) and raw blend, which combines kibble with freeze-dried raw pieces in the same bag.
Dog treats include Wild Weenies freeze-dried raw with 97% meat, uniquely shaped like cocktail hot dogs; the raw coated Carnivore Crunch; and the new Hemp Oil Supplement Chews with THC-free, broad-spectrum cannabidiol (CBD). Those come in “calming” or “hip and joint” formulas.
This past June, Stella & Chewy’s launched a line of cat food. While not as broad as the dog food line, it features several frozen raw varieties, freeze-dried raw and meal toppers. “It’s a big deal for us,” Mulcahy notes of the cat food line. “Pet parents have asked us for a cat kibble. It took a while to crack the recipe, but we didn’t want to just throw a product out there just because there was a demand for it.”
Stella & Chewy’s employees may bring their pets to work. Photos of employees’ dogs are displayed throughout the office building, and there’s an outdoor dog exercise area. Their Journey Home program donates meals to shelters across the country that focus on senior and adult pet adoption. This year, Stella & Chewy’s made Deloitte’s Wisconsin 75 list, which recognizes 75 of the state’s largest and most successful private companies for the impact they make.
For more information, visit stellaandchewys.com.