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18 Mar 2007
Bag Balm: Probably Vermont's Second Most Famous Brand

When I was in college I worked at a pharmacy. One of the funniest (to a 20 year old) products at the store was something called Bag Balm . The pharmacist told me it was developed to keep the skin on cow udders moist so they would not become so dry and chapped that the cow would find milking painful. And the pharmacist also told me it was the best skin moisturizing product even though it cost far less than the upscale cosmetic creams the pharmacy also carried.

Bag Balm was not that well known back then but it is today, and it is still made in Lyndonville Vermont by The Dairy Association. The Dairy Association founded the business in 1889. Bag Balm became known nationally when famous reporter Charles Kuralt featured it on his television news series “On the Road” and in his 1985 book.

Bag Balm is great for hands dried by winter weather and it helps year around for cuts, scratches, skin irritations. Dog owners, groomers, and veterinarians use it on paw abrasions, and you will usually find it on farms where it is used on all types of animals.

The Dairy Association also makes products for horse hooves and leather goods but they will always be best know for that funny-sounding but great-working product called Bag Balm.

Interesting side note: The Dairy Association has been headed by only three people in its 118 year history and only four secretaries (or administrative assistants, as they are called today).

The Dairy Association's town of Lyndonville is a nice place to visit. It is located in the Northeast section of the state known as the Northeast Kingdom, Vermont's most rural and least populated area.

Lyndonville is one of three villages that comprise Lyndon. The other two are Lyndon and Lyndon Center. Yes, I know it's goofy but that type of arrangement is common in Vermont.

The town of Lyndon had already been organized 75 years before Lyndonville was built in 1866 to serve as a major railroad center, making it Vermont's only railroad-built town. Today the population is about 5,500, not one of whom has dry skin.

Vermont's best known brand? Ben & Jerry's ice cream, naturally!

(c) 2007 Jeff Connor
Unusual , VT Products
posted by  grunhaus at  22:00 | permalink

9 Mar 2007
Vermont Ski Furniture

Most likely you have seen those chairs or tables made out of old skis but did you know that there is a company in Vermont that makes those products?

Vermont Ski Recyclers is a 12 year old, Morrisville Vermont company making furniture from outdated ski equipment that otherwise would have ended up in a landfill.

The furntiture is often used indoors but naturally the skis can hold up to many many years of outdoor use.

(c) 2007 Jeff Connor
Unusual , VT Products
posted by  grunhaus at  20:44 | permalink

5 Mar 2007
Mad River Rocket Sled: Well Named

I ran into a friend and fellow innkeeper yesterday who very enthusiastically told me he had just purchased a Mad River Rocket sled. As he said, the product is well named and the emphasis should be on the word "Rocket."

I should explain that this guy is over 50 years old and not what anyone would call a wild man! But he had attended a demo put on by Waitsfield VT outfitter Clearwater Sports and had such a great time, he bought one of the sleds. I've heard of other people doing the same thing. The sled may look like a young person's toy but its appeal is much broader. Its reputation is growing too. I think the product is only a few years old but its popularity in this part of Vermont is strong. Everyone I know who has tried it has had a great time. They are fun to ride and easy to control.

Mad River Rockets sleds come in five models, range in price from $50 to $275, and are made in the USA just down the road a few minutes from me in Warren VT. You can buy on the web site or click a link to one of the retailers listed there.

When you are at the web site, be sure to see The Stash photo gallery for great photos of the sleds at Ranier, Utah, Italy, Germany.

Here is the best way to give this a try. Rent a Mad River Rocket sled at Clearwater Sports in Waitsfield VT for just $12 and have them give you directions to Lincoln Gap Road about 15 minutes drive from the store. This road is closed to car traffic in winter and provides a long, thrilling ride. Take a look at some YouTube video here and here to see how the sleds operate and how much fun they are.

(c) 2007 Jeff Connor Grunberg Haus
Unusual , VT Products
posted by  grunhaus at  22:16 | permalink

3 Mar 2007
Hammerhead: the Vermont-made High Tech Extreme Sled

It is interesting to see how geography and weather affects life. In a place where there is much snow and many hills, even leisure activities like sledding can get serious after a while.

Evidence of this is the Hammerhead, a full-out sled for those who want to see how far sledding can go. The company is located in the central Vermont town of Ferrisburgh, south of Burlington about midway to Middlebury. The sled is recommended for people at least ten years of age and is really designged with adult size sled drivers in mind. It measures 51" long x 9" tall x 23" wide.

The company has an outstanding quality website loaded with information right down to a link to the website of an industrial design consulting firm that helped develop the Hammerhead.

There is a very good review of the sled by Ken Picard on the Seven Days newspaper. The opening paragraph of that review actually summarizes the sled well: "Combine the operational simplicity of a downhill sled with the 21st-century engineering of a snowboard and the lightweight durability of a modern snowshoe, and what do you get? A sled that handles like a Ferrari and moves with nearly as much speed."

Also see the Find A Hill database submitted by the public at large in different states describing their favorite sledding hills.

The retail price is around $300. Yes, it's a lot for a sled but considering you will be going as fast as a rocket, it's a ton cheaper than rocket fuel. You should also budget a helmet and some protective gear in case your sledding hill has trees.

When you are in Vermont, check some of the local outdoor outfitters to see if you can rent one. I know Umiak Outfitters in Stowe rents them and they can also direct you to some local sledding hills (I like the one behind the Stowe elementary school).

There is another great sled made in Vermont called the Mad River Rocketsled and I'll post an entry about them soon too.

(c) 2007 Jeff Connor Grunberg Haus
Unusual , VT Products
posted by  grunhaus at  15:16 | permalink

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