Billy Owczarski has been diagnosed with cancer three times in his life and, like many, turned to cannabis as an aid to deal with the cruel side effects of chemotherapy.
In 2017, when Owczarski was battling Hodgkin lymphoma, he spent a lot of time at home since the chemo made it impossible for him to go to work.
Looking back at that time, Owczarski recalls having little to no appetite. Opting for a joint instead of a snack, Owczarski got high and let his thoughts wander. He arrived at an opportunity to bring cannabis, food and fun together in the form of a cannabis leaf-shaped waffle maker. And he called it the Waffleye.
When Life Hands You Lemons
That classic “pot brownie” in that classic square Pyrex pan is quite tired after all these years and often associated with a negative stoner stereotype. The Waffleye is an effort to move past stereotypical cannabis edibles.
“I wanted it to be something arbitrary, not associated with anything too specific like ‘weed waffle,” or anything like that,” Owczarski said about the company name. “It is a play on the all-seeing eye, it is a play on being full, it is a play on a new way of seeing waffles.”
Owczarski and his wife/business partner Alex Owczarski did a lot of the work needed to bring Waffleye to fruition during a three-week hospital stay while Billy received his bone marrow transplant.
“It was rough. I remember working on building the website and bouncing ideas off of Billy when I could,” Alex recalled. “It was a decent way to pass the time, and the exciting thought of creating a business together definitely helped keep the mood light during such a bleak time.”
Thankfully, after the draining chemotherapy sessions and long hospital visits, Billy was able to beat cancer.
Since the Billy’s treatment was such an integral part of Waffleye’s inception, the couple decided to give back by donating a portion of all sales to City of Hope Cancer Treatment and Research Center.
Waffleye became a bright spot in an extremely difficult time for the Owczarskis, and their company slogan suits this perfectly: “When life hands you lemons, make waffles.”
Mom & Pop Waffles
Being a small husband-and-wife-owned business, Waffleye inserts a familial tone into their brand through the recipes on their website and social media.
“Our mascot is Grandma, who is inspired by our own grandma,” Alex said. “She cooks breakfast every Sunday for our family and always uses a Waffleye waffle maker.”
According to their site, the recipes are written by Grandma and always include things that she or Grandpa have actually said.
Waffleye’s family-oriented brand, paired with a creative way to express a love of cannabis, shows that cannabis normalization has come a long way and the company is cognizant of this fact.
“As a small business, we are passionate about what we do,” the Owczarskis state on their website. “We truly hope to provide fun and interesting recipes, to make you laugh, and to help change the narrative about cannabis.”