By Patch Editor Ted Glanzer
West Hartford resident Jessica Mikan has expanded her Magic Kringle brand to include a book that provides the backstory behind her “magic reindeer food.”
The self-published book — The Story of Magic Kringle — is now available along with the magic reindeer food that she started selling last year just before Christmas.
Mikan wrote the book, under the pen name Alice Cosgrove, by seeking counsel from four kids: three Duffy Elementary School students (Aubrey, Ben and Matt) and her son.
“They were instrumental,” Mikan said. “What kids think is cool and what grown ups think is cool are two different things.”
For example, Aubrey, a kindergartener, insisted that the protagonist’s Nana have purple hair, which Mikan ultimately obliged.
While it has taken a lot of hard work, Mikan’s products are beginning to catch on with retailers.
Magic Kringle items are on sale at more than 100 stores in Connecticut, including 23 Walgreens and independent toy stores such as Necker’s Toyland in Simsbury, The Toy Chest in West Hartford and Amato’s Toy and Hobby in Middletown. Magic Kringle can also be found in Enfield, Glastonbury, Guilford, and Greenwich.
Getting her products on display in retail stores has not been easy. She estimates that she’s visited more than 500 individual stores over the last year.
“I drove in my car with my kid all over the state with Magic Kringle [reindeer food] and a [manuscript of] the book,” she said in an interview on Thursday.
Ed Dunn, toy manager of The Toy Chest, said that Magic Kringle has been a hit with his customers.
“We did it last year and sold out,” he said. “We’re always looking for things that are unique, different and especially local. This is a combination of all those things. This year it’s a nice addition with the book. It’ll be good. …
“It’s so simple, but it hits home for kids who are moving or traveling to keep a connection to Santa Claus. We’re happy to be a part of it.”
Mikan, who grew up in West Hartford and is a Hall High graduate, was coy about what’s in magic reindeer food.
“Lots of magic passed down from elf to grandmother,” is all Mikan would allow.
But the real magic is in Mikan’s idea, which sounds so simple that, like most great ideas, it’s hard to believe it wasn’t thought of before.
The story behind magic reindeer food is well-documented. Two years ago, Mikan was out of work and shuttling between her home on Long Island and West Hartford.
When she wound up in West Hartford for Christmas, her young son fretted that Santa Claus wouldn’t know where he was to deliver his presents.
So Mikan made magic reindeer food from a family recipe and she, along with her son, sprinkled it on the lawn on Christmas Eve.
“It acts as a landing strip,” Mikan said. “If you move … you can sprinkle it on the pavement, and Santa knows exactly where to find you.”
And, of course, each of Santa’s reindeer has a favorite color of magic reindeer food.
Mikan believed she was on to something and decided to turn her inspired idea into a business.
Last year, she had magic reindeer bottled into ornaments to hang on holiday trees; parents and kids can take the ornament, open it up on Christmas Eve and spread the contents on the ground to let Santa know where to land.
This year, Mikan hopes that the ornaments ($4.99), packaged along with the book ($12.99), will resonate with consumers.
“It’s a cool gift to give people,” Mikan said. “I think kids will relate to the book. My grandmother was always giving books for Christmas. … I love technology, but there is something to be said for appreciating where you come from.”
Mikan said that she is proud of how far she has come and that everything associated with Magic Kringle is made in the United States.
“Connecticut is one of the hardest states economically,” she said. “If I can start a business in Connecticut where everything is made in America, then I can make it anywhere. … I’m doing stuff that I love. I’m very lucky. I’ve been embraced by a state.”For more information about Magic Kringle, including retailers that carry the product line, visit magickringle.com or the Magic Kringle Facebook page here.