SEATTLE -- Sculpting dough like Play-Doh is a childhood staple. But with parents becoming increasingly concerned about allergies, not to mention what could accidentally end up in a child's belly, one local mom saw an opportunity.
Seattle resident Kim Smith is a professional baking instructor, but over the past few years, she's been cooking up something in her home kitchen that isn't meant to be eaten at all. Her oldest child, Max, was born more than two months premature. Now he suffers from allergies. Both experiences have had a tremendous impact on his parents.
"For a parent to wake up in the middle of the night and hear their child not being able to breathe, it is really terrifying," said Smith.
Smith was already keen on the concept of "going organic" in her food, but when Max was tiny, she started experimenting with a different medium -- sculpting dough.She made sure to use only ingredients that even the most sensitive children with the most severe allergies can play with.
"When something as simple as sculpting dough can keep them from having fun, we just want everybody to have fun!" said Smith. "You know, we want everyone to join into the experience. Because we really believe in just imaginative play."
The end result of her efforts is "Max's Mud". It's an organic, gluten-free sculpting dough made with rice flour, sea salt, jojoba oil, and a few proprietary ingredients. It has been in stores since spring 2009. It's namesake, Max, is now six years old, and thriving. For him, it's all about the bright colors. Yellow is his current favorite
"I used to like pink but I don't like it any more," he explains. He also loves all the shapes he can make. "It's really fun. You can make lots of humans and you can make anything."
With it's certified organic and gluten-free labels, now it's something practically any child can play with. Max's Mud is currently being sold in about 70 stores in the Pacific Northwest, including Top Ten Toys and some Whole Foods. It generally retails for $4 a tub.