2012 Gift Guide: Say Chees-us
Two Greyhounds make their mark on the grilled cheese sandwich
December 4, 2012
Remember a few years back when a grilled cheese sandwich with griddle marks resembling the Virgin Mary netted $28,000 in an eBay auction? Megan Sheehan, ’02, does. The story got her thinking that consumers might be willing to pay to emboss their own sandwiches with members of the Holy Family—especially if the product had a cool name like Grilled Cheesus.
Thinking ahead, Sheehan—an international business and Spanish major—trademarked the Grilled Cheesus name and locked down the ideal domain (www.grilledcheesus.com)—but otherwise kept plugging along building her career in product development at accessory maker Coach. Then in fall 2010 a character on the hit show Glee saw the image of Jesus in his toast in an episode titled, you guessed it, “Grilled Cheesus.”
Sheehan started fielding phone calls and emails from fans wanting to know how to get their hands on their own sanctified sandwich, and a business was born. She and lifelong best friend and business partner Rob Corso, ’02, a marketing major who now runs a Brooklyn, N.Y., recording studio, incorporated the business, connected with product designers and advisors, researched and selected a production facility, and raised $25,000 on the funding website Kickstarter.com. Units began shipping to consumers in May 2012.
“We were very fortunate that our first prototype worked,” said Sheehan. “We were worried about that, because it was important to us that the image look realistic, not like a cartoon. A lot of people will see this product as fun and clever, but others—like my family—are likely to see this as a tool for helping to introduce their kids to Jesus. We didn’t want it to be a joke.”
Once the company is in the black, Sheehan and Corso intend to dedicate a portion of their profits to nonprofits focused on alleviating hunger. Until then, the two use a Grilled Cheesus to make sandwiches for the lunch program at their parish in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.
“From the beginning, we both wanted to be involved in something that gave back to our communities, and neither of our day jobs do that as much as we’d like,” said Sheehan. “Grilled Cheesus will give us a much greater chance to do that than a one-time day volunteering.”