From Apples to AllSpice
Madison family behind the popular party game Apples to Apples now produces space-saving spice racks to suit any kitchen.
Leah Sugar (center) is the co-founder of HausLogic, a Madison company that produces and sells the AllSpice spice rack created by her brother, Max Osterhaus. Leah and Max were also part of Out of the Box Publishing, a former Madison board game publisher that their father, Mark Osterhaus (left), co-founded in 1998 and brought to prominence as the co-creator of popular party game Apples to Apples.
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Going from publishing party games to making spice racks may not seem like the most obvious transition, but when you’re talking about the family of entrepreneurs that co-created the popular card game Apples to Apples, the throughline becomes a little more clear.
“We have a passion for the process of creating products that are unique and well designed,” explains Leah Sugar, co-founder of HausLogic, the family owned Madison company that produces AllSpice spice racks. Sugar is the daughter of Mark Osterhaus, co-creator of Apples to Apples, which also got its start right here in Madison.
“When I was in high school, my father started a board game publishing company called Out of the Box Publishing,” Sugar says. “Both my brother, Max, and I grew up working with our parents, designing, testing, and selling well-designed, fun, and creative board, party, and card games.”
According to Sugar, Apples to Apples came to the Osterhaus family and Madison-based Out of the Box in 1998 from a game designer as a complex board game that even included a 100-sided die.
“Our strength is in finding unique concepts, doing away with things not needed, and turning them into the very best products,” Sugar notes. “That’s what we did with Apples to Apples. We took one small part of that original game that brought the most joy and excitement to players, and polished the design, content, and instructions to make it the best game possible.”
After Apples to Apples took off, Sugar says it made sense for Out of the Box to pass it on to someone else and find another arena where the family could use their product design experience. In 2007, Out of the Box Publishing sold the rights for Apples to Apples to Mattel, and the company, which had a number of other popular game titles over the years, eventually shut down in 2015.
Before Out of the Box packed it in for good, however, Sugar’s brother and another Out of the Boxer, Max Osterhaus, was struck by inspiration.
“We are all passionate about cooking, and so improving creativity and functionality in the kitchen became an obvious choice,” Sugar says.
Max Osterhaus was at this point an experimental cook living in Oakland, California, and he was fed up with ordinary spice racks. Fortunately, Osterhaus is also a skilled woodworker, designer, and artist. He worked for over five years on design and testing to create a spice rack that met all of his initial goals — and then some. After many iterations, and testing in his own kitchen, he built the first AllSpice 60-jar rack.
Osterhaus’ innovative 60-jar spice rack successfully freed up valuable kitchen storage space without sacrificing critical working space, making spices front and center, well-protected, and effortlessly within sight and reach.
Driven by the idea of “Perfectly Organized Inspiration,” Osterhaus and his family established HausLogic in 2014 to roll out the AllSpice brand, which is available on Amazon. Since that initial 60-jar rack, which is still the largest on the market, HausLogic has produced 30- and 12-jar racks in seven different finishes, allowing the spice rack to complement just about any kitchen décor.
The creation of AllSpice racks was timely. A recent report by Nielsen states that Americans are increasing their spice use. Specifically, the dried herbs and spice industry has grown by more than $223 million over the past four years.
Interestingly, the creation of the AllSpice racks had a pleasant, if unintended, side effect.
“My brother designed the AllSpice rack after needing a way to organize spices in a beautiful, compact, and more functional way,” says Sugar. “[However], at that time we had no idea how the AllSpice rack would change our [own] cooking experience. We found ourselves adding many more spices into our cooking and becoming more creative cooks. We all love cooking, so it has been a blast watching everyone ‘nerd out’ on kitchen product design.”