Indiana woman’s culinary invention long road to success

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Diagnosed with diabetes and cancer and facing an unhealthy weight, a Gary Indiana woman knew she had to change the way she ate and cooked.  But the mother of five kids was also facing the dilemma of trying to feed her hungry and slightly picky family with foods they would also enjoy. Mary Hunter says a little divine intervention led to her invention which has already changed her life – and may do the same for her home town.

Mary has been whipping up large dinners for her family and her church for decades, but found herself struggling to keep flavor in her foods after a doctor told her it was time to change her eating habits.

“I got sick with diabetes,” she said. “I got cancer and the doctor said I had to change the way I cook so I did. I started trying not to use so much salt and I started mixing up herbs and and using aromatics to cook with and stuff to cook with.”

The problem Mary faced was keeping the inside of the large roasts she liked to cook flavorful.

Until one day, while preparing for church, a thought jumped into her head.

“One day I was writing a poem and holding the ink pen and the Holy Spirit spoke to me and said if you take that ink pen and stick holes all the way through it and put hinges on one side and a tip on the other, you can open it up and put your aromatics and herbs in here and go back and stick it inside your meat.  That will cut out a lot of that bland taste.”

The idea behind Mary’s Marinating stick was born in 1994. A 10-inch stainless steel cooking tool that allows a meats own juices to run through seasoning to tenderize and marinate meat from the inside, without any waiting.

Rave reviews from family and friends had Mary searching for an “in” to the commercial market.

About five years ago, friends began selling Mary’s Marinating Stick in local grocery stores..

A short while later the Food Network show Invention Hunters came calling.  Mary faced some tough competition, but made it all the way to the finals in New York.  Her invention wowed the big wigs and she ultimately took the top prize.

Just this fall lifetime brands began selling the 73-year-old’s seasoning stick, as did Target stores online, nearly 20-years after the idea was born.

But some of the work is just beginning.  Mary’s youngest, Dwayne, a reverend at a local church, hopes money from sales of the sticks will not only improve his mom’s life, but also the people of Gary.

“We want to help our tax base here and create jobs here in the city,” he said. “It might not be a whole lot of jobs but if we can employ 100 people that’s 100 people that can pay taxes.  That’s 100 people that can do things they normally couldn’t do for their children.”

Mary and her family are using their own website – – to raise money for the church and ultimately people in Gary.

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