It ain't easy being a snack food these days. One one hand, the competition for shelf space is fierce, and on the other, you're being beseeched by health and fitness advocates and the government about how you're responsible for everything from rampant obesity to the downfall of America.
So I gotta give a lotta kudos to these two who are doing their damndest to cut through the clutter and the muttering.
On the "We Ain't That Bad" side there's Lesser Evil, who make "All Natural Kettle Corn and Krinkle Sticks" with no preservatives, trans fat, high-fructose corn syrup or anything else bad.
Usually, these are code words for "tastes like hell," but this ain't health food the Tuckahoe, New York company is touting...just "better" than the usual bag of oily chips or popcorn. And the retro packaging takes you back to a simpler time where things were healthier...or at least you didn't know how bad they were for you.
Also all-natural, the people at Robert's American Gourmet handle things a little differently. These guys are the Jones Soda of snack foods, with flavors and gimmicks that grab attention...and cash (the company enjoyed a 38% dollar growth last year).
Owner Robert Erlich throws a lot of SKUs up against the wall. Some--like Pirate's Booty and Moon Chips--stick; others--like the $50 bag of Caviar Potato Flyers, Bubble Tea Popcorn and St. John's Wort Tortilla Chips--don't, and for good reason.
But with $50 million in sales, Robert's is flying and will keep trying (up next: 50-grain Stem Cell Chips. Yum!)., and will even let folks like us get involved and suggest his next snack hit. Or miss.