Turmeric is a plant similar to ginger. It's found and used commonly in India, Pakistan, and other parts of south Asia, where it's an essential part of the flavors of many foods. But two Milwaukee men believe there is an emerging market for turmeric, or at least a key component of it — so much so they gave up business careers to start a beverage company.
Asim and Qasim Khan are natives of Pakistan and the founders of ZYN, a beverage that launched last year. ZYN has grown to the point where the company expects to be sold in around 1,000 stores by the end of this year.
Asim Khan recalls that their father once had a severe episode of diabetic nerve pain while they were visiting family in Pakistan. Their aunt ground turmeric into a powder and created a paste by blending it with olive oil. She applied the paste to their father's foot wrapped in a cloth.
"Less than an hour later, his pain was completely gone — so that was the aha moment and inspiration for us," he says. "We had wanted to get into the health and wellness base, and we just didn't really have the specifics on what we were going to do, so we started researching turmeric."
There are more than 90 ingredients in turmeric root according to Asim Khan, and ZYN harnesses one of its most important components: circumin. Circumin provides anti-inflamatory and antioxident benefits, making it "the micro-chip" that powers turmeric.
From first crafting the beverage in their kitchen with a lot of orange-stained pots to now exploring wider distribution, "everything about this venture has been learned through research we've done and speaking with industry experts," says Qasim Khan.
The Khan brothers hope that people can incorporate ZYN as an all-purpose refreshing drink in their daily lives. Qasim Khan notes that the general population in the Eastern hemisphere consumes turmeric in breakfast, lunch, and dinner through their cooking. By introducing turmeric in a beverage for American consumers, more people can enjoy better health, but he says their mission goes beyond the physical benefits.
"Part of our goal is connecting cultures," he says. "There are lots of different cultures around the world — they’ve been doing it for, living their lives for millennia — there’s benefit from looking at how they’re doing things that benefit them and lead to a happy life."