Symbiotic Stories – Daniel Striped Tiger
How many people can say they shared pretzels with Mister Rogers?
When I sat down with Daniel Isner to learn more about the personal relationship his family had with Fred Rogers, he said one of the things he remembered most was the delicious pretzels.
Fred always shared a handful of the yummy snacks from a big pretzel jar with his office guests on the set of Mister Rogers Neighborhood. How many people can say they shared pretzels with Mister Rogers?
One of the things I like most about Buchi is getting to know our tribe, taking moments to have conversations in the kitchen, the conference room or the warehouse.
During one of these conversations, a group of us were discussing the new Mister Rogers movie coming to theaters soon and Daniel told us about his family's personal history with Fred Rogers.
"Yeah, actually my namesake is Daniel Striped Tiger."
"OK, what? Daniel Striped Tiger? Seriously?"
"Yeah, Fred was a mentor to my Dad, we used to visit his studio all the time when I was a kid and I got my name from Daniel Tiger."
The rest of the story goes something like this:
While Daniel's Dad was studying Children's Communications in Pittsburgh he decided to seek out a mentor to guide him on his journey. One day he mustered up the courage to call the nearby offices of Mister Rogers Neighborhood and asked to speak with Fred Rogers.
With one simple phone call, not only was a mentorship born, but a lifelong friendship consisting of handwritten letters, frequent lunches and even a very special phone call to the hospital when Daniel was born.
"My Dad said when I was born, Fred called the hospital to offer his congratulations and he made that call extra special for my parents..."
After Fred offered his well-wishes he said some other friends would like to offer their congratulations too, so in his world of make-believe, Mister Rogers pretended to hand the phone off to some of his best friends...
Congratulations came from King Friday, Queen Sara Saturday, Prince Tuesday and finally Daniel Striped Tiger. Mister Rogers spoke in all of their character voices and they all shared how happy they were to hear the news about the new baby boy in the neighborhood.
I've seen the trailer for A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood and it looks like the premise is much the same as Daniel's story, a stranger reaches out to Fred Rogers and ends up with a lifelong friendship. According to Daniel, Mister Rogers was the mentor to many over his lifetime and his kind words made an impact on even more.
Daniel says as he grew older and they continued to visit Fred's office, he noticed something else really cool about Mister Rogers that went well beyond the big jar of delicious pretzels.
"Fred was always tuned in to the conversations with me, he made me feel very special and I really felt seen by him. It was like everything I was saying to him mattered. So, one day, when I was about 14 years old he asked me what I was passionate about?"
Daniel told Fred he was starting to like cooking and recipes and was becoming interested in learning more about nutrition.
Fred smiled and said, "What a wonderful thing it is to cook for people."
Those kind words from Mister Rogers were more than 20 years ago and Daniel still thinks about them today.
Daniel is a supervisor at Buchi and his passion for nutrition helped him start an organic farm called Abha Farms in Marshall, NC. He grows staple and specialty greens, seasonal vegetables and botanical products like teas, salves and body balms with more products launching soon.
"I enjoy growing, sharing and cooking food for people. It's amazing how one seed, just one tiny seed, can produce so much good for people around the world."
I think Mister Rogers would know exactly what Daniel means.