When crisp fall air kept Bill Wald cooped up inside, all he could think about was pouring himself the perfect cup of hot chocolate — topped with a sweet, sticky, marshmallow.
But while Wald’s mug was full, his cupboards were bare; with not a single marshmallow in sight.
“It was too cold to leave the house. … I decided that as a self-sufficient person — and a creative — that I should try my hand at [making] it,” he recalled.
The effort was a success, prompting Wald to make additional batches — which drove friends wild and mixed up just the right kind of entrepreneurial side hustle.
“This was never on my radar — ever,” he said, recalling the series of events that ultimately baked The Modest Mallow — an all-natural marshmallow company first whipped up in 2015.
“My goal is to create an entire food experience. Bold flavors, well-balanced sweetness, perfect texture, and a consistency that will all leave you wanting more,” Wald said, noting the confections are typically available at Eureka Daily Roast, Seven Swans Gifts and Goods, Anabel’s Makers Market, and the Made in KC Marketplace (where inventory is currently sold out).
The Modest Mallow offers seven flavors year-round — vanilla, peanut butter, lavender, birthday cake, mocha, and chai — with four additional flavors making their debut on a seasonal rotation.
All products are egg, dairy, soy, artificial flavor, and artificial color free.
“The end goal is a look of shock on someone’s face the first time they try them,” Wald said.
With jet-puffed momentum, there seemed to be no stopping The Modest Mallow from becoming a Kansas City staple. Then came the COVID-19 pandemic — an experience that shuttered the pop-up and craft show circuit Wald had come to call his marketplace.
Far-from modest differences
“The market doesn’t have a product with this level of integrity in it — and I can say that with 100 percent confidence. Grocery stores are flooded with insignificant and unsatisfying food that we consider, ‘Quality,’ because we’re told it is. In reality, most food you can buy pre-packaged doesn’t really hit the mark like it could if someone put some effort into just making it better,” Bill Wald explained.
“Ben & Jerry’s is a company I see as hitting the quality nail on the head and more products need to take notes.”
“The pandemic has had a significant impact on my business, but if I’m being completely honest it’s because of the impact it had on me,” he said, opening up about the realities of running a side hustle while also operating an auto repair shop full-time during the era of COVID-19.
“I had a lot of wind in the sails going into  and that wind just disappeared when the pandemic hit. I took advantage of the opportunity to recharge. I was burning the candle at both ends for literally years.”
Wald ultimately shuttered online sales entirely.
“In 2020 I learned that I was exhausted and I need to ask for help. I try to carry it all and it’s overwhelming at times,” he said candidly.
“However, when a majority of your business is retail and pop ups — and both are either closed or canceled, what else can you do aside from hope for the best?”
With Wald’s return to the kitchen simmering, ready to bring the marshmallow machine to boil at scale, he’s hopeful Kansas Citians will show their support for the local retailers currently carrying his products.
“As much as I needed the break, I really need to get the ball rolling again,” he said of the quiet but mighty company he’s confident will bounce right back — an attitude that shares the spirit of the company (and its name).
“It’s not flashy, it’s not loud, but it is powerful while being modest.”