The Pacific Northwest has a reputation for being “crunchy” and “granola.” As a California-native who calls Washington, DC home, I would say that was my first impression about the PNW upon moving here almost five years ago myself. Whatever truly defines crunchy and granola, however, I have come to embrace it.
Bellingham-based Erin Baker’s® new Blue Bike™ Sprouted Snacks came into my life this year and the five ounce bags of crunchy, granola goodness quickly captured my taste buds. I was sent a box of samples to try and I shared them with my fellow colleagues. The sample bags were empty within a couple hours. If snacking on these savory seed and nut mixes mean I am a crunchy and granola Pacific Northwest gal, then that is what I will be. I absolutely LOVE these and I am excited to share them with What’s Up Northwest readers!
There are four flavors to try, Sea Salt, Sriracha, Dark Chocolate and Peppercorn. I kid you not when I say every single one of my colleagues had their own favorite and they each loved the flavors for different reasons (about 20 different colleagues tried them out). There was not a stand out flavor that everyone universally agreed on, they are all so different and all delicious.
Sea Salt had a nice balance of the sweet and salty and was considered to be on the broad spectrum of flavors. One colleague said “this tastes like a real snack you could have on any occasion.”
Sriracha was my personal favorite (I love anything with a kick). You could smell the Sriracha right when you open the bag but the taste was not overpowering whatsoever. The Sriracha flavor even won over those who don’t really like hot or spicy foods and one colleague said it would be a great chaser after drinking a beer.
Dark Chocolate is a good fit for those who prefer the sweeter side of snacking. It’s not overly sweet with the chocolate and there is a slight hint of salt at the end. One colleague suggested sprinkling this mix over Greek yogurt or taking with you out on the bike and hiking trails.
Peppercorn definitely lived up to its name. You can see the peppercorn on the seeds and the flavor lasted awhile on the tongue. This would be another good flavor to have while drinking some beers during a happy hour.
I had the chance to interview Erin Baker herself about her delicious creations!
Tell us about you! Where are you from, what was life like growing up?
I’m originally from Bellingham, but I’ve lived up and down the West Coast! I spent my childhood observing my mom doing it “old school,” and there was a constant bowl of whole wheat bread dough rising on the heater vent along with passionate conversation about the difference between whole food and refined processed food and why we don’t eat “that margarine crap.” I learned about the high value of whole foods and the absence of value in refined and processed foods.
I lived in San Francisco Bay Area in my early teens and 20’s where I was inspired and educated by talents the likes of Alice Waters, Bradley Ogden and Emily Luchetti. They celebrated the importance of whole foods and demonstrated how to cook and bake with whole foods with wild success, this was in the 80’s… they were onto something! Exposure to this genius left me determined to cultivate my own brand of success.
What made you decide to create Blue Bike Sprouted Snacks?
Blue Bike™ Sprouted Snacks are really a tribute to my humble beginnings. Back in 1996, I was trying to change the way people think of breakfast with the Original Breakfast Cookies. When the cookies really began to take off, I needed a commercial size oven to keep up with the demand. The bank wouldn’t let me take out a loan, so I sold my most valuable possession – my car—and instead of driving, I delivered my baked goods around town on a blue Schwinn Bike. Blue Bike™ is an acknowledgement to the hard decisions I had to make to turn my bakery into what it is today. That same blue bike is hanging on the wall in our Bellingham bakery today so I never forget!
What makes you different from other protein snacks on the market?
Sprouted foods are one of the biggest trends for 2017 when it comes to healthful snacking. Sprouted seeds are full of great benefits like being easier to digest, give a natural boost of energy, and deliver more key nutrients. They have more bioavailable nutrients than their non-sprouted counterparts, making them good carbs. Every ingredient in Blue Bike™ is selected with purpose – think wholesome ingredients with no additives, preservatives or GMOs – and carefully crafted to deliver more flavor, nutrition and goodness in every bite.
What inspired you to get into this business?
With a last name like Baker, it was hard not to get into this business. Even from an early age, I’ve always been surrounded by whole foods. My mom was constantly in the kitchen cooking up a storm while growing food of all kinds and then canning, drying and preserving them for eating all year long. Then, when I lived in San Francisco in my early teens and 20s, I was surrounded by talented educators who truly inspired me and stressed the importance of whole foods. It was the exposure to that way of life that left me determined to create my own success. I’ve turned my love of wholesome ingredients and desire to feed people into a thriving business that hand bakes and distributes breakfast goods and snacks all around the country.
What are your favorite places or events to go to and share your product?
Besides visiting the Boys & Girls Clubs every month to donate 10,000 cookies as part of our Help Feed 1 Million Kids Program, I also love going up to Mt. Baker in the winter to help staff our Fuel the Ride Tent on the slopes! The Winter Ride Program directors were finding that about half of the kids were hitting the slopes on empty stomachs, so every Saturday we greet kids and offer them a free Breakfast Cookie or cup of Granola and milk. You can’t beat yummy breakfast and fresh powder!
Walk us through how you work from conception to final product?
Specifically with Blue Bike™, we observed a growing trend of sprouted grains and knew that sprouted ingredients would be the perfect addition to a new snack line. In fact, sales of sprouted products in the U.S. are expected to rise to $250 million by 2018 . Additionally, we’ve found that while many people snack every day, many are consuming snacks as a meal alternative . By incorporating nuts and sprouted seeds into a tasty, savory, on-the-go snack, we wanted to change the way consumers snack and introduce them to ingredients they may not have otherwise tried. Then we headed to the test kitchen to taste test a lot of different flavors, perfected the recipes and into final packaging they went!
What charities do you all work with?
Fueled by my personal passion to address childhood hunger and nutritional issues, the company established its Help Feed 1 Million Kids Program in 2012. Through this program, we provide over 10,000 Breakfast Cookie Minis each month to the Boys & Girls Clubs across Washington State to help kids kick-start their day. A healthy breakfast is critical to overall health, development and productivity. Through this program, we want to show kids the importance of a proper breakfast and what it can do for not only their brains, but their bodies as well. A portion of all Erin Baker’s® sales support this program, so you can feel good about the food you feed yourself and your family!
Where do you see Blue Bike Sprouted Snacks in the future?
On every store shelf of course! Whether it’s in your gym bag, office desk drawer or purse, we want everyone to snack smarter. The days of grabbing a bag of processed potato chips are hopefully soon behind us, and I continue to see people focused on the ingredients and foods they choose to fuel their body, which is awesome! Blue Bike™ Sprouted Snacks are not only tasty, but good for you. What are you waiting for? Head to your local QFC and pick up a few bags!