Jonathan Van Ness and Antoni Porowski’s New Catchphrase Is “No More Boring Bowls”
And with the launch of their new dog food line at their joint pet brand, Yummers, it’s going to stay that way.
Your pet wants you to read our newsletter. (Then give them a treat.)
Last September, Queer Eye fans who’ve been shipping Antoni Porowski and Jonathan Van Ness for years thought their dreams had come true when the pair announced on Instagram that “after years of joking about it, were finally together. Here’s to giving things a shot :).” Twenty-four hours later, they announced that, in fact, the thing they were giving “a shot” had absolutely nothing to do with a relationship and everything to do with their mutual love of pets. Their big joint venture is called Yummers, a pet food brand featuring meal “mix-ins” to add to their meals.
Now that Antoni and JVN have been in the pets business for almost a year, The Wildest thought it was beyond time that we catch up with the two about their brand, their own lives as pet dads (they both adopted pups from Austin Pets Alive), and a very enticing tease at what’s next for Yummers. Below, two-fifths of the Queer Eye Fab Five team fills us in all of it.
Update, August 30, 2023: A few weeks after this interview, Yummers officially launched their dog food brand with the following flavors: Chicken & Beef, Salmon & Lamb, and Salmon & Beef. During our interview, the two cheekily hinted to the launch of their dog food brand, which is now available at the Yummers website.
As pet parents, what were the things you felt like were missing in the pet food/snack space that you wanted Yummers to bring to the table (or the dog bowl, if you will)?
Jonathan Van Ness and Antoni Porowski: The pet food space is huge, but for far too long, the market failed to tap into feeding our dogs and cats as anything other than a routine. We wanted to create a brand that channels the emotion we feel in our obsessive…OK, ridiculously obsessive, pet parenthood and treats mealtime for our pets as something special. Which they deserve! Thus, our little baby, Yummers, was born.
AP: For me, I feel like the single or limited ingredient treat/topper/food brands in the pet space lacked the playfulness/fun other more highly processed brands would lead with, so it was important to offer a product which wasn’t intimidating with it’s branding and visuals all while taking itself very seriously with quality.
What makes Yummers particularly special as a brand?
JVN and AP: As a brand, we were really excited to celebrate the very loving, but also very quirky, human-animal bond that any pet obsessed owner can relate to. And a lot of times, the fact that pet parenthood is a two-way street is often overlooked, so we wanted to emphasize that the bond is just as healthy for humans as it is for pets.
As for our products, the details are what set us apart. Our recipes are simple and don’t use any fillers. In fact, many of our formulas consist of just one ingredient (chicken breast, beef liver, cheddar cheese) that’s freeze-dried to keep all the nutrients pets need, as well as the flavor they want. And we set the bar high with our ingredients — all of our products are sourced and manufactured in the United States. We also made a commitment to sustainability through ethical sourcing and earth-friendly, PCR (post-consumer recycled) packaging.
What are your pets’ favorite flavors of the Yummers offerings?
JVN: I have quite the brood of fur babies at home — five cats and three dogs. Of course, I have chickens, too, but they, being chickens and all, do not eat Yummers. And they have feathers, not fur. As for the cats and dogs, they all have different palates and preferences, but with Yummers, I can tweak and tailor each of their meals. Larry, for example — my oldest cat — his appetite has become trickier with age. I think that’s an anxiety a lot of pet parents can relate to. He’ll turn his nose up at regular food unless it’s properly garnished with our mix-ins. For him, I alternate between the freeze-dried chicken breast morsels (his favorite!) and the functional digestive mix-in to support a balanced belly.
AP: Neon is not like Larry…she has a less, well, much less refined palate, aka, she’ll eat anything. That said, she showcases a particularly large amount of butt wiggles (she gets very excited) for the tender morsel mix-ins, both the Salmon & Sweet Potato and the Turkey & Cranberry. Both are great for topping off her meals, but they also double as perfect treats for our walks. I know the simplicity of Yummers serves her well and, on the occasion that she does get into something she’s not supposed to, the functional mix-ins help us, let’s say, “recalibrate.”
Antoni, if you were doing a Queer Eye style tutorial with your pets on why they should bring Yummers into their daily food routine, what would you say to them?
AP: There was a time when pet feeding was “one size fits all.” In recent years, however, there’s been a rise in more customized approaches, and I think that can be attributed to the understanding that not all pets are the same. Just like humans might adopt a personalized eating plan, the pet food industry has seemingly exploded with products, subscriptions, and services that address certain needs for our dogs and cats. While there are obvious benefits to this evolution in pet feeding, the downsides are it can be overwhelming to know where to start, and it can get expensive.
Yummers meal mix-ins give pet parents an approachable solution to customizing and catering to their pets. For instance, your dog might have GI problems or a sensitive tummy. For that, we’d suggest adding in the Digestive Aid mix-in to ensure a daily dose of probiotics. Or, maybe your cat has seasonal allergies and gets a wee bit itchy. We’d recommend the Skin & Coat Aid, which is packed with biotin and omega-3 fatty acids. And we can never emphasize this enough: All our mix-ins are ridiculously delicious, so your pet is getting what they want — something tasty — as well as what they need, nutrition wise, which you can feel good about.
Jonathan, self-care is a huge part of what you advocate for on Queer Eye. Why is Yummers an essential part of the pet self-care routine?
JVN: With each new Hero we’re introduced to on Queer Eye, I always ask myself “How can I help this person implement small and sustainable changes that will ultimately impact their life for the better?”
We developed the first Yummers product line using this same line of thinking. Our flavor-forward mix-ins are a no-fuss way of enriching mealtime for pets and, in turn, improving their overall quality of life. Ya know, self-care starts from the inside-out for pets, too, so obviously what they eat is vitally important.
Yummers provides tasty nutrition and helps spice up mealtime for pets, so they don’t get bored by their bowls. Which actually brings me to my Yummers catchphrase — “No boring bowls!” If I could, I would shout that from the rooftops every single morning until the whole world knew. But, as reality would have it, I have neighbors, so I can’t.
What are some upcoming developments we should know about Yummers and add to our calendars?
JVN and AP: Our lips were supposed to be sealed, but we’re kinda too excited not to announce that Yummers will be venturing into the world of premium dog food with a highly anticipated product launch on the horizon. But that’s all you get. Our lips are sealed again.
You can’t even be mad.
We have to wait until this fall for the full reveal, but expect Oh Norman! to offer accessories, treats, and even cleaning products.
Inspired — and helmed — by his own Maine Coon, chef Bobby Flay’s Made by Nacho is a pet food brand that puts felines first.
And good news: The packaging features Captain America and his pup.
The Because, Animals co-founder on the eco-friendly way we could feed our pets.
Reducing your paw print can seem daunting. Consider these simple tips.
Hilary Weaver is the senior editor at The Wildest. She has previously been an editor at The Spruce Pets, ELLE, and The Cut. She was a staff writer at Vanity Fair from 2016 to 2019, and her work has been featured in Esquire, Refinery 29, BuzzFeed, Parade, and more. She lives with her herding pups, Georgie and Charlie.