Several startups are evolving bars by shrinking them down to poppable morsels that consumers can eat while still using both hands to do other activities, like driving or soothing crying infants. They’ve also ditched the individual wrappers in favor of a reclosable pouch that is easier to manage and gives consumers control over how much they want to eat.
One of the most recent entrants in this emerging category is E&C Snacks’ Hunkola – “a real food mash-up”that is a combination of cookies and granola “smashed” together into bite-sized pieces that consumers can enjoy as a “conscious indulgence,” said the company’s CEO Casey Webber.
Webber explained that the “hunks,” which will launch in March in two flavors – Berry Scrumptious Peanut Butter Bash and Nutterly Awesome Cran Jam – are made from almonds, cashews, cranberries, coconut and dried fruit that is smashed together with rolled oats and a gluten-free flour blend.
He and his aunt developed the treat in a “mad scientist” moment in the middle of the Avian Influenza crisis that was causing an egg shortage. He explained they were in the kitchen testing a potential new granola and a new cookie, and decided to mash them together to see if they could make a snack that didn’t need eggs – or a “crazy” gum – to hold them together.
“It is literally real foods smashed together, and that smash is what holds it together,” Webber said, adding that the end result is “baked with love and whole ingredients in our kitchen, and not a lab.”
Smaller bites offer more snacking satisfaction
Originally the smash-up was the size of a standard cookie or bar, but the duo decided to break the serving into three bite-size pieces to create a more engaging snack, Webber said.
“The original ones were one ounce, but three pieces felt more satisfying than one piece. The smaller size and multiple bites created more of an experience – it added to the snack factor as something you could crunch on more than once,” he explained.
The smaller hunks also are easier to access and eat than individually wrapped bars, he said.
He explained that originally the hunks were in a larger, individually wrapped format, but that the company switched to bite-sized hunks after Webber observed a person eating a bar at a stop light. She was struggling to take a bite, pull off the wrapper and turn the car all at once.
“I thought she was going to have an accident because of the bar!” he said. Changing to the bite-sized hunks in a pouch is “convenience factor” that makes eating easier, he explained.
The resealable pouch also gives consumers more flexibility over how much they want to eat, whereas a bar dictates a portion that might be too big or too small for some people. This is a major reason why Momme Meals made Go Chews as a one-hand snack in a pouch.
Another soon-to-be player in the space, blogger Mareya Ibrahim, echoed the convenience factor as a main reason behind her line of Fit Bites – small “balls” of food that she will launch later this year.
Because the pouch is resealable, Webber notes consumers have the added convenience of not having to find plastic baggies – they can simply keep the whole bag in their purse or car.
A point of differentiation
Another benefit of launching bite-sized hunks instead of a bar, is the bar and cookie categories are exponentially more saturated. The new format helps give E&C Snacks a point of differentiation that stands out on shelves, added Webber.
Currently, Hunkola will be distributed in the Midwest, but Webber hopes to expand in the future. He also is plotting several new snacks to launch later this year.