URBANDALE, Iowa -- From the quirky name, to the story behind it, everyone loves everything about the Churpi Churpidurkha.
The dogs like the flavor; their owners like the features.
“I like the fact that when it dries, there’s no residue on the carpets or the floors,” says dog owner Dee Steinhart.
Made from the milk of yaks in the mountains of Nepal, "Churpi" is healthy and clean.
Dr. Anil Regmi doesn’t just market the stuff, he eats it himself.
"I do!" he laughs. "Ask my staff! I eat it!”
He’s not kidding. Basically a dried cheese (Regmi's staff says it tastes a bit like gouda), Churpi is something many Nepalis eat as a high-protein snack, and he personally samples every box that's shipped in.
“You have to develop a taste,” he says, popping another small pieces into his mouth.
The idea of bringing it here occurred to him last spring on a trip home. The country was still reeling from an earthquake and he felt a calling.
“I have a good life, so why don’t I try to help the people over there?” he says.
Relief funds don’t always reach the people (Regmi cites government corruption), so he opened a business instead. Using local labor, local farmers (and local yaks) will send the bulk of the money right to the people that need it most.
“Around the mountains, 25-cents can feed a family of four,” Regmi says.
After less than a year in business, he’s already bought more ground for more Churpi factories.
Back here, the stuff is a hit.
Hy-Vee, Fareway and others have it in some 35 locations and the impromptu packaging room at Regmi’s office is rushing to meet the demands of customers on two legs and four.
“We’ve only had maybe two out of all of them that didn’t like it,” says Steinhart.
If they don't like it, Regmi suggests putting it in the microwave, where it puffs up like popcorn after about 20 seconds. Again, he’s eager to demonstrate.
The Churpi comes from Nepal, but he says the desire to use it to help his old home is something he learned in his new one.
“I am Iowan," Regmis says. "I have lived here since ’92, so an Iowan has a mentality to help people.”
The Churpi Churpidurkha--what’s not to love?
You can learn more about the treat here.