Larabars have become my latest and greatest obsession. I am absolutely amazed at how something so delicious can be a clean snack, especially in this GMO, preservative-ridden, processed food epidemic we are living in. I have been telling everyone about these phenomenal bars and as a result I have so many people hooked on them from my mother, to best friends, to coworkers and friends of friends.
I have tried every flavor of these original larabars and have decided that my favorites are cashew cookie, blueberry muffin, carrot cake, coconut cream pie, banana bread, apple pie, chocolate chip cherry torte, chocolate coconut chew, key lime pie, peanut butter and jelly and chocolate chip cookie dough. These are a great CLEAN SNACK made out of dates*, unsweetened fruits,nuts and spices. It has no more than 2 to 9 ingredients and they taste absolutely AMAZING! Whatever the flavor says on the outside, expect to unravel and taste a natural, gluten-free, vegan, delicious version of this treat on the inside.
I decided to reach out to this company and get to know them a bit better by asking them several questions I was curious about. Here are the responses I received from Stacy Johnson, the marketing coordinator:
1) What was your first flavor ever created? The first 5 flavors created were Apple Pie, Cashew Cookie, Cherry Pie, Banana Bread and Chocolate Coconut Chew in 2002.
2) Who comes up with these flavors and what is the process? There is a R&D team at our Minneapolis-based headquarters who test flavors samples. They research ingredients and nutritional facts to determine if a flavor will still qualify to fit our standards. They also do shelf life testing to make sure they can withstand a 1-year shelf life without preservatives. If those factors qualify, then some taste-testing occurs and final tweaks are made before packaging is designed.
3) How do you determine which flavors should retire such as gingersnap and cinnamon roll? Retiring flavors is determined by mostly by sales numbers, but also factored in are QRO statistics (if there are more complaints on a certain flavor), and ingredient quality & prices.
4) What is the intent of each bar- LARABAR, ALT bar, UBER bar, and JOCALAT bar? All of our product lines follow the principles of 2-9 ingredients, Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Soy Free, Vegan and Kosher. LÄRABAR = Pure & Simple, just as nature intended: a delicious blend of fruits, nuts and spices, made from 100% real food. We have 4 LÄRABARS with a Fair Trade Certified™ chocolate chip. ALT = The Alternative Protein Bar: this is our first attempt at a protein or supplement bar while still following our core principles and using an all-natural Pea Crisp protein. ÜBER = Sweet & Salty Nut Bar: this is more of an indulgently sweet bar that has taste you can see with its’ whole pieces of fruit and nuts, held together with honey and sprinkled with sea salt. This is a different taste and texture than our normal LÄRABARS. JŎCALAT = Organic Cocoa Bar: chocolate in its purest form. Harmonizing with fruits and nuts, each flavor contains no more than 7 simple ingredients. Deliciously rich. All Organic. No Added Sugars. A wholesome indulgence you can feel good about eating.
5) What do the two dots on top of the “A” in LARABAR mean? Those two dots are called an umlaut. The pronunciation of our product is LAR (rhyming with BAR) – AH – BAR. The origin comes from our founder’s name Lara and the umlaut emphasizes the fronting of vowels in some languages; it’s also used as a decorative symbol for our name.
6) How big is your company? In 2008, we were purchased by Small Planet Foods, the natural & organic division of General Mills. Our Marketing is primarily done out of our original Denver office where we currently have about 10 employees, but Small Planet Foods has hundreds of employees nationwide and General Mills has thousands of employees worldwide.
7) Who comes up with the flavor of the month? We don’t typically have a Flavor of the Month. Our Social Media coordinator decides what flavors to feature at what times.
8) Why is your price so reasonable? We do not use any supplements or preservatives so we’re simply buying fruits, nuts and spices. We buy our ingredients in large bulk which allows the price to stay low and helps us pass along those savings to our consumers.
9) Do you only sell LARABARS in USA and CANADA? If so, how come you have not expanded internationally? Yes, we currently only sell in the US and Canada. Before we were acquired by Small Planet Foods, we were available all over the world but the brands in Small Planet Foods are only sold in the US and Canada at this time.
10) It says on the website that the concept of Larabars developed during a hike on the Rocky Mountains- can you elaborate on that more? If you’d like to watch the story of LÄRABAR told by the founder Lara, please do so athttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bAf5ug-uCGw&list=HL1368737414&feature=mh_lolz.
11) Where were Larabars first distributed, (what stores did they start off being sold in) and was it difficult to find buyers at first considering all of the other “health food brands” currently on the market? We were first sold at Whole Foods Market in the Rocky Mountain region of Colorado. I cannot speak to the difficulty of finding buyers.
12) How are the Larabars held together since most other bars use preservatives?We use dates as our natural sweetener and binder. The über bars are also held together with honey.
13) What possessed the owner, Lara, to make the switch to a healthier lifestyle? Lara was a college athlete and her coach at the time put his athletes on a strict no-sugar diet and it stuck!
14) If somebody wanted to become a brand ambassador what would be some of their duties? Please find the Guidelines and FAQs on the Ambassador program here:http://s3.amazonaws.com/jo.www.larabar.com.2011/uploads/program/pdfs/18/original.pdf.
After emailing with Stacy and receiving her thoughtful and detailed responses, I asked her is she would be willing to send me two ÜBER, two ALT and two JŎCALAT bars so that I can review them on my blog. She kindly asked what flavors I would prefer, so I told her that for the ALT bars, I would like to try the cinnamon apple crisp and pumpkin pie. For the UBER bars, I would like to try the apple turnover and banana foster. For the JOCALAT bars, I would like to try the chocolate and the chocolate coffee or chocolate hazelnut.
Stacy was very helpful and generous. Within a day she replied to my request and said she would send them right over with the exception of the chocolate coffee JOCALAT bar, which would be replaced by Chocolate Mint due to a lack of Chocolate Coffee JOCALAT bars in their office.
I will be reviewing these bars shortly so stay tuned for my post ! 🙂