I spent some time earlier this week scrolling Facebook (shut up) in hopes of finding an update on The Dripping Root’s planned expansion. But I got sidetracked almost immediately when I saw the juice bar had posted about something new in the shop from a company called “Gallant Tiger.”
“Is that… a fancy Uncrustable?” I murmured.
Gallant Tiger is the brainchild of Kamal Mohamed, the owner and operator of the lovely little stepchld in northeast Minneapolis. He also, along with his brother Arif, started Nashville Coop, the hot chicken food truck that’s grown to three brick-and-mortar locations since it launched during the pandemic. And back in 2011, Mohamed co-founded the MN Food Truck Fair, which he ran for three years before selling to a private event company. Not a bad track record.
“Gallant Tiger is an idea I’ve had for the past decade, and it kept nagging me to finally launch it,” he tells Racket.
Mohamed saw the same kind of potential Justin’s saw in Reese’s peanut butter cups: a delicious, nostalgic, and just plain convenient snack that hasn’t gotten much of an update over the last few decades. “It’s something with staying power—you don’t have to convince somebody to eat a PB&J sandwich, right?” Mohamed chuckles. “It’s as Americana as a hot dog.”
Mohamed’s idea was to revitalize the pre-wrapped, crust-free PB&J, cutting out the preservatives and “dough conditioners” and giving it a branding refresh to boot. As he worked on other startups, the idea just kept coming back to him. Friends had kids and remarked what a good idea it would be for lunches; early investors, including former Viking Marcus Sherels, thought it would be a great on-the-go snack for athletes. Thus, Gallant Tiger was born.
Mohamed collaborated with local bakeries, working through dozens of versions of bread to create something soft and squishy that could hold up to the gooey contents. Heidi Skoog of Serious Jam helped Gallant Tiger develop some seriously good jam recipes, eventually landing on four inventive combos: apple chili jelly and almond butter, chai spiced pear butter and peanut butter, salted strawberry jam and peanut butter, and blueberry bourbon sage jam and peanut butter.
All Gallant Tiger sandwiches are pressed between crustless sourdough bread. They’re vegan and high in protein, and the packaging design features a big, bold, brief ingredients list. “That’s deliberate,” Mohamed says.
Gallant Tiger hit Dogwood Coffee Co.’s Northeast shop about a month ago; Mohamed says they’re already working to get the sweet sammies in the roastery’s other two locations. You can also find Gallant Tiger at The Dripping Root. (I’ll get back to you on that expansion at some point.)
The name, of course, comes from South High’s Gallant Tigers, a mascot Mohamed still identifies with though his high school days are a ways behind him.
“A Gallant Tiger—I feel like it’s a character that’s taking on a larger competitor, so you have to be a little bit brave and gallant,” Mohamed says. “You have to put your best foot forward to go into a market where you’re going to be an extremely little fish. You put on your big mask.”