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Don’t Be Crabby: Penn State Student Brings Maryland Crabs To State College

No, not that kind of crabs.

Many great businesses sprout from a lifelong dream, a midlife crisis, or a solution to a persisting problem. But for Emma Snelling, a junior majoring in mechanical engineering, her entrepreneurial endeavor started off as a class project.

The course was Tech Entrepreneurship, and the assignment was to make a $600 profit in just three weeks. While many students opted for selling shirts or care packages to reach their goal, Snelling took a different route.

Snelling is originally from West Chester, Pennsylvania, but since graduating high school, she’s been living primarily in Ocean City, Maryland. Since crabbing is so big there, Snelling had the idea to bring fresh crabs to Penn State.

“I thought it would be a huge hit,” Snelling said. “I thought frats would want to have a crab night, I thought clubs would want to have a crab night. Because that’s what people do in Maryland.”

However, it flopped. Selling just crabs wasn’t cutting it, so Snelling and her groupmates headed back to the drawing board.

While brainstorming, one of Snelling’s partners recalled that his sister, who had previously taken the class, sold grilled cheeses to reach her $600 goal. Snelling and her group decided to follow her lead and add specialty sandwiches to their menu.

With less than two weeks until the project was due, Snelling went back to Maryland where she ran a test kitchen with her dad to perfect the new sandwiches.

“We went until 3 a.m.,” Snelling said. “Testing different breads, different cheeses, making the sauce.”

After some trial and error, Snelling perfected her crab mac n’ cheese grilled cheese, as well as a gluten-free version and a traditional crab cake sandwich. After announcing the new items on her State College Crabs Instagram account, sales began to take off, and Snelling and her team reached their $600 goal.

Now, Snelling is running her business completely on her own. She does all the cooking, delivery, and advertising by herself.

“Starting a business is not easy, especially in college,” she said. “It takes a lot, a lot, a lot of time.”

Although it can be stressful at times, Snelling’s passion for her business is what keeps her going.

Snelling has been working in the food industry since she was in high school. She worked at a produce farm where she learned about food prep, pricing, and how to run a successful business. After graduating high school, she worked at a restaurant in Ocean City where she learned a lot about customer service and the food industry. With these experiences under her belt, it’s no wonder Snelling’s business has been so successful.

“If you can’t get fully behind your product, you won’t succeed,” Snelling said. “You have to be shameless and willing to put yourself out there, even if it feels silly.”

Snelling said she’s been told “no” a lot throughout the process. She’s handed out free sandwiches on Saturday nights, reached out to dozens of clubs, and even gone door-to-door on Frat Row.

“I’ll constantly get left on read, people will laugh when I tell them I sell crabs,” she said. “You just have to be tough.”

Although the crabbing season is now over, Snelling is currently working on new items that she hopes will be announced later this semester. State College Crabs takes orders through a Google Form, and you can reach out to Snelling through Instagram DMs if you have any questions.

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About the Author

Grace Cunningham

Grace is a junior advertising major and one of Onward State’s social media editors. She is also a co-host of our podcast, Podward State. Grace hails from Chatham, New Jersey—no, she doesn’t know Snooki, and yes, she will fight you if you tell her that Pennsylvania bagels are good. Grace loves buffalo chicken, the Yankees, and watching Cake Boss. Follow her on Twitter @gecunningham7 or email her at [email protected] if you can get her an internship.

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