Of all the social media sensations, who knew a gilded mac and cheese–themed necklace could stand among the greats, giving one small retailer that specializes in food-themed fine jewelry a pre-holiday push along the way.
This week, Delicacies Jewelry and Panera Bread created a collaboration that went viral: a gold chain bedazzled with three gold-plated noodles. The necklace is part of a giveaway to hype the St. Louis–based restaurant chain’s newest menu item, the Grilled Mac & Cheese Sandwich, combining two of its favorite menu items for “the ultimate collaboration of cheesy goodness.”
The necklace—which Panera says “levels up those macaroni necklaces of the past” that everyone created as kids—comes from wife-and-husband team Nicolle R. Nelson and John Peter Larson. The couple owns Delicacies Jewelry, an online shop that creates “tasteful jewelry for people who love food,” Nelson and Larson say.
Panera is running the contest through midnight tonight and will give away 500 of the Mac Necklaces, which feature three delicate macaroni noodles floating on a gold chain. Each necklace is valued at $200, according to the contest rules.
Social media fans raved about the design and sweepstakes through hundreds of comments like “I literally eat pasta/mac-n-cheese every day of course I had to enter” and “Three sons, three grandsons who are all addicted to Mac & Cheese! I’d feel just like June Cleaver wearing her pearls. I’d definitely wear my Mac & Cheese necklace.”
The Panera partnership came up quickly and has created great buzz not only for the Mac Necklace but for both companies, Larson says. Panera reached out with the necklace giveaway idea, and designing the high-end macaroni necklace was a blast, he adds. Plus, Larson says, the two companies are a match because they both support charitable organizations that seek to end food insecurity.
Nelson and Larson donate 10% of sales from every one of their pieces to hunger-relief organizations, a giving-back platform that their “chief culinary officer,” television food expert Andrew Zimmern (Larson’s former coworker), helps promote. To date, they have donated 567,000 meals through their work, Larson says. They hope to achieve 1 million meals in late 2021 or early 2022.
“Panera wanted to level up its merchandise offerings, and this is its first foray into jewelry,” Larson says. “We’re just thrilled. The piece is beautiful.… They’ll start shipping them in October and they’ll also be available for sale on our website in November.”
Nelson and Larson, both former public relations staffers, live in St. Paul, Minn., and split their time between Minnesota and Mérida, Mexico, where they’ve lived for the past 12 years. They started the research process for the business in May 2013 and launched in October 2015. The catalyst was Nelson’s passion for food and Larson’s intimate knowledge of the subject matter.
“When we started the business, we knew nothing about jewelry, retail, or e-commerce. It was trial by fire,” Larson says. “We made a lot of mistakes and learned a lot. But we found our niche, and now we have a passionate, loyal following. We love food and we love jewelry. No one had really married the two in fine jewelry done in silver and gold.”
The couple creates custom orders for individuals and brands, and the business has done collaborations in the past, Larson says. They try to seek out these branding opportunities once or twice a year, he adds. Previously, Delicacies worked with Morton Salt on a series of “salty” word pendants, umbrella-shaped earrings, and salt canister necklaces. It also worked with pasta company Barilla on perfectly cooked designs like the brand’s bow tie–shaped farfalle and corkscrew rotini.
The jewelers’ other designs are just as whimsical and fun as you’d imagine. There’s the Pierogi in yellow gold plate, the word pizza in sterling silver, and a whole batch of dumplings in every size and shape, including gyoza, soup, and ravioli. Prices range from $60 for a sprinkle donut ring in sterling silver to a $420 14k yellow gold cow pendant with a 0.04 ct. diamond in its belly.
“The dumplings have been a huge success, and we are really excited about our new hunger partner for the collection: Welcome to Chinatown,” Nelson says. “Every dumpling sold donates $10—that’s one meal—to their Sik Faan Fund, which means ‘Let’s Eat!’ The fund buys meals from struggling [Manhattan] Chinatown restaurants and delivers them to food-insecure residents living [in the neighborhood].”
Top: Delicacies Jewelry created the Mac Necklace for Panera Bread. (All photos courtesy of Delicacies Jewelry)Follow JCK on Instagram: @jckmagazine
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