Humboldt Sugar Co.
By Jessica Ashley Silva
Turns out, all it takes is half a spoonful of sugar to make the medicine go down — exactly half a teaspoon. Inside Humboldt Sugar Co.’s eco-friendly pink and white packaging are individual doses of raw sugar infused with 5 mg of THC from sun-grown Humboldt County cannabis. For founders Jessica Ricker and Cara Rasmussen, the concept was simple: Create a product that allowed users to take dosing into their own hands, then package it in a way that celebrated femininity and the softer, sweeter side of the cannabis industry.
Humboldt Sugar Co.’s history is rooted in the intersections of Ricker and Rasmussen’s lives. They’re moms, they love food and they are, of course, cannabis enthusiasts. After moving to Humboldt, attending Humboldt State University and dabbling in various levels of home growing, they crossed paths at their kids’ preschool in 2009. A fast friendship developed between moms and kids alike, and within just a few years, the early concepts of what would become Humboldt Sugar Co. were born.
Ricker and Rasmussen say it all started with a joint while watching Bong Appétit — a cannabis cooking show and the inspiration for many an infusion experiment — back in 2014. The episode featured canna-chefs making infused desserts and the proverbial light bulb turned on. With legalization on the horizon, they dreamed of legitimizing their love for cannabis and could think of no better partner with whom to start that venture.
The road to infused sugar was long, with twists, turns and a few roadblocks along the way. The ladies infused, baked and ate their way through ideas in the name of “research and development.” One early idea was to make a take-and-bake brownie mix but consistent dosing post-baking proved a challenge. After more trial and error, they decided to take a step back and reassess their goal of keeping it simple, keeping it sweet and promoting custom dosing for their consumers. They ultimately decided to scale back their idea to its simplest but most versatile form: infused sugar.
By 2020, with legalization well established, Ricker and Rasmussen had racked up years of research with a game plan ready for California’s exploding cannabis market. They decided their sourcing and branding would stay true to Humboldt and its roots, sticking with sun-grown cannabis with minimally processed raw sugar and recyclable packaging, to boot. They applied for and received their license, found a kitchen in Willow Creek, and got down to business.
Business, as it turned out, was glamorously chaotic. They donned white lab coats with their names embroidered in pink, then the researching, purchasing, and sweet-talking of kitchen machinery ensued. After early attempts to form the sugar into cubes or other pressed shapes and discovering their fragility in transit, the ladies decided to package loose sugar with the help of a machine they affectionately named Oscar. On Oscar’s bad days, mechanic Rasmussen sidles up to him with tools in hand to put him back in his place, and on his good days, he pumps out enough sugar that the ladies have real Lucy-and-Ethel-in-a-candy-factory vibes trying to keep up.
Ricker and Rasmussen’s first eight months as an official business have been a whirlwind of growth. Their first appearance in a dispensary was at Eureka’s Heart of the Emerald. Now Humboldt Sugar Co.’s infused sugar can be found in 18 dispensaries in Northern and Central California, including most dispensaries in Humboldt County. Their debut as a brand sponsor on the Humboldt event scene was for a 420 Celebration at Forever Found Humboldt. Now, they’re spending summer pounding the Los Angeles pavement trying to break into the Southern California cannabis scene.
The Humboldt Sugar Co. ladies are already making strides toward the next evolution of their brand. Along with expanding their dispensary presence across California, they are experimenting with new ideas for products and sourcing. New edibles are in development, including cotton candy, suckers and sour-sugar sticks, with an emphasis on new dosing options for consumers with higher tolerance. They plan on expanding to bulk sales of their infused sugar to other cannabis companies serving up sweets, too.
Sourcing efforts remain high on their list of priorities for future changes to the company. Currently, Humboldt Sugar Co. uses distillate, the most popular edible ingredient, as its THC source. Ricker and Rasmussen have plans to move to a recipe featuring a full-spectrum tincture to make the high even sweeter and deeper with the sought-after entourage effect from the full expression of cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids. They’re also seeking the perfect single-source sugar supplier to partner with, as well as developing options for sugar substitutes to include consumers with dietary constraints.
The ladies are currently busy plotting to pay homage to the core communities their brand represents – women in cannabis and Humboldt. Along with an all-women committee of likeminded cannabis professionals, they’re planning a community event (set to launch when COVID-19 restrictions loosen) where women-owned businesses within the Emerald Triangle can come together, network and sell their products. “We think showcasing the talent and creativity of women in our community is important. [This event] will create a space where people can come together to enjoy a variety of products and services crafted by women, for everyone,” says Rasmussen. For them, banding together to build up women in the industry is the sweetest of highs, outside of their sugar packets, of course.
Fresh Peaches with Honey Lavender-Infused Whipped Cream
1 teaspoon local honey
3 packets Humboldt Sugar Co. sugar (5 mg THC each)
Fresh or dried lavender
½ cup heavy whipping cream
Chill a metal bowl and set aside.
Heat the heavy whipping cream and lavender in a pot. Steep for 10 minutes, then strain out the lavender and chill the cream in the refrigerator.
Add the honey and contents of the Humboldt Sugar Co. sugar packets to the chilled bowl. Add the chilled heavy whipping cream. Using a hand mixer or stand mixer, whip the cream until soft peaks form.
Peel and slice fresh peaches, and arrange them on a plate. Top them with the honey lavender whipped cream. If you like, drizzle the peaches with additional honey and garnish with fresh lavender.
Humboldt Sugar Co. sugar packets (5 mg THC each)
Place a few sprigs of fresh lavender in a jar or bowl. Cover the lavender with Humboldt Sugar Co. sugar and let it sit for 24 hours to infuse.
Serve ½ teaspoon at a time for a 5 mg THC dose in coffee, tea, lemonade, whipped cream and more.
Butterfly Pea Flower Strawberry Lemonade
For a little extra, roll the wet rim of each glass in a packet of Humboldt Sugar Co. sugar prior to muddling your strawberries. Just don’t forget to eat it while you drink. Serves 3.
Lemonade of your choice
1 teaspoon butterfly pea flower tea
8 ounces water
1- 2 packets Humboldt Sugar Co. packets (5 mg THC each) per drink
Boil the water and steep the butterfly pea flower tea in it for 5 minutes. Strain, then chill the tea for 1 hour.
Muddle 2 strawberries in a tall glass. Fill each glass 2/3 full with ice and lemonade. Stir in the desired number of Humboldt Sugar Co. packets (5 mg THC each) in each drink.
Pouring slowly and gently over the back of a spoon, float the chilled butterfly pea flower tea over the lemonade. The tea will react with the acid from the lemons and will become more purple as you stir it.
Garnish with a strawberry and serve with a reusable straw.