Inventor of the Week Archive
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Jackie Diaz, creator of the Culinique line of Surprise Inside
Food Molds, was born in 1959 in New York City. She and her
family later moved to a farm in Granville, Ohio. Her father,
a product developer for Bell Labs, and her mother, an artist,
inspired her interest in both art and science. She was a budding
inventor by age 12, when she designed and built a 'duplex'
rabbit hutch out of an old cupboard.
For many inventors, a single "aha" moment can trigger
a life-changing discovery. Diaz had her first of two of those
moments on her 21st birthday, when her mother made her an
ice cream cake. The cake, which was topped with ice cream
that was exposed to the air, became messy very quickly as
the ice cream began to melt. Years later, Diaz had her second
"aha" moment when she made an ice cream cake for
her son. In her version, she put ice cream in between two
layers of cake. She noticed that the cake insulated the ice
cream very well—at that moment she knew she was on to
While working for her husband's accounting practice in 1983,
she developed a prototype for a two-part cake mold that would
create a circular cavity for filling, with a pillar in the
center that would give the cake stability. When the two parts
were filled and pieced together, the cake would completely
surround the hidden filling. With ice cream, this meant insulation
that would keep it cold for up to an hour. The mold could
of course be used for all kinds of other recipes as well.
Diaz sought the advice of a patent attorney, but was discouraged
and temporarily shelved her idea. She instead continued to
work as an accountant, and in 1987, she received her B.A.
in Business Administration from Thomas More College. In 1991,
Diaz's husband passed away. She decided to embark on a new
career. She took her prototype to a lawyer who believed in
her idea and encouraged her to begin the patent application
process. Meanwhile, Diaz researched manufacturing processes
for the molds. She found a manufacturer who offered to make
the molds if she would pay for, market, and sell them. She
took a chance and decided to go for it, establishing Cooks
InOvation and dubbing her food mold kit "Culinique."
Diaz then began showing her products at trade shows, eventually
catching the eye of QVC. When she finally showed her products
on the home shopping channel, her entire stock of 2,000 units
sold within seven minutes. She has appeared on QVC several
more times, with similar results.
Now Diaz runs her business out of her Blue Ash, Ohio home.
With a successful track record in the consumer kitchenware
market established, she is currently planning to exercise
her method patent rights and co-brand with frozen food manufacturers
to produce desserts and entrees. She also continues to expand
the Culinique® line of branded products, which now includes
the Serv-A-Slice®, for slicing, serving and apportionment,
Baker-Spade®, for icing and one-handed transfer of sticky
cakes and entrees, and Cool-N-Glaze Racks® for cooling,
filling, flipping and glazing baked goods. She also has several
new kitchenware products in development and plans to introduce
a smaller version of her food molds soon.
Diaz also plans to market very high-end Culinique® prepared
desserts directly to specialty retailers and on her company
website, www.culinique.com. When she isnít working, she cooks,
canoes, fishes and plays golf. She also enjoys prototyping
new products for new markets and mentoring other independent
inventors. She says her most important piece of advice for
aspiring inventors is that they should remain determined,
not only to generate new products but also to germinate them.