Spicy Chex Mix, this ain’t.
Dada Daily — even the name sounds high-minded — is a healthy snack food brand and the latest obsession of founder and former Fivestory owner Claire Olshan. With crispy almond butter Brussels sprouts and cheesy cauliflower popcorn florets packaged in foil-y pouches with a gold logo and oddly paired mismatched hands — one, a line drawing, the other a photo — reaching for a chocolate or holding forks over a plate of the veggies, the brand has a Dada-esque aesthetic, which is to say, ironic. After all, Marcel Duchamp — he of the $1.76 million urinal — was an early Surrealist and champion of the 1900s movement, from which Dada Daily takes its name.
Snacking shouldn’t be “mindless, or a moment of weakness,” said Olshan. “We set out to break the taboo definition of snacking and the impression that snacking is a lonely, dirty word.”
Saks Fifth Avenue today is launching at the Manhattan flagship a pop-up shop featuring the Dada Daily collection and takeover of Home for the Holidays on the ninth floor. “We’re going to create a decadent holiday dinner party,” Olshan said, adding that “Making Decadence a Ritual” is the brand’s tag line.
Bloomingdale’s and Nordstrom’s new Manhattan flagship will launch the brand in 2020. Dada Daily bowed at seven Neiman Marcus stores, and is sold at upscale coffee bars such as Jack’s Stir Brew in Greenwich Village, and the Hamptons; hotels, including the Ludlow and Marlton, and apparel specialty retailer Matriark in Sag Harbor.
Like the yoga student striving to become more flexible — it’s all about the practice — Olshan aims to raise snacking’s status by casting Dada Daily as a sophisticated, healthy and tasty part of the daily routine. “It’s an important personal ritual people do every day,” she said.
“I had a very sensitive stomach as a pre-teen. I wanted to create health food since I was 16,” Olshan said. “I learned intuitive eating. As I got older and thinking about what I wanted to do with my life, food wasn’t ticking all the boxes. At 18, I realized I wanted something flashier and a little more fun. I was an aesthetically minded human. I went into art. I loved studying it, but when it came to selling it, it became a true hobby.”
Olshan is pursuing a food education with the same intensity she applied to art and fashion, earning a degree in integrated nutrition in June. “We worked with Cornell University to do nutritional panels and I tapped friends in the food industry for recipes,” she said.
Every product strives for form and function, Olshan said products are packed anti-inflammatories and immune-boosters with more Vitamin C than an orange. “There’s lion’s mane in the cocktail nuts,” she said adding, “It’s a healing mushroom powder that boosts the immune system. We reduced the amount of coconut sugar in the chocolate down to zero percent sugar on the nutrition panel, yet it’s the most decadent, earthy and creamy chocolate. I like dipping the sweet potato spirals in aioli.”
Dada Daily’s tentacles extend to entertaining. Referring to to a head-shaped storage unit for snacks that does double duty as a serving tray and bowl, Olshan said, “It’s a dinner party in a box. They can serve as an hors d’oeuvre or side dish and can also make an interesting hostess gift. You don’t have to do any mental gymnastics. You can bring the boxed set of truffles in the shape of eyes instead of a bottle of wine.”
A hand-shaped candle for $59; a set of four napkin rings for $75, and a set of four place cards for $8 can go a long way toward setting a scene.
Olshan in 2012 launched Fivestory in an Upper East Side townhouse with her father, Fred Distenfeld. “Fivestory was really an outlet for so many things I loved and enjoyed,” Olshan said recently over tea at Bergdorf Goodman. “A decade into Fivestory, I realized that something in me wasn’t fulfilled. If I’m going to spend my day away from my son, [who is 2 years old,] I have to be totally fulfilled.”
Olshan and Distenfeld last month sold Fivestory to Karen Murray, the former chief executive officer of Sequential Brands Group. “I sold the whole thing. We both loved Fivestory as much as we ever had, but we were kind of exhausted,” Oshan said, referring to herself and her father. “We needed to find someone with the spark and energy and enthusiasm. Karen is creating a café at Fivestory, and desperately wants to sell Dada Daily there.”