Hi Nicole! I stumbled upon your 88 Acres Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt bars a few years ago after a friend gave me them to try. I didn’t realize how much I was missed carrying FODMAP snacks in my bag and not having to worry if it would make me sick.
I love how the name “88 Acres” comes from growing up on your farm in Massachusetts. Being a city girl from Houston, I can only imagine how great it was eating your own farm raised produce. What was one of your favorite childhood memories of cooking with some of these fresh ingredients?
We had a huge herb garden at the farm and I loved how my mom put fresh herbs into everything during the summertime. From homemade spaghetti sauce to salsa to pesto, nothing says “fresh” to me like incorporating herbs into everything.
Tell us how the story of 88 Acres got created?
I think the story can be traced back to my fourth date with Rob. We were out to dinner and Rob, who has a severe nut allergy, was served a dish that was cross-contaminated with nuts. He had an anaphylactic reaction almost immediately and I rushed him to the ER. We were going 80 miles per hour in downtown Boston and Rob had his epipen in one hand; his phone in the other so he could call his parents. I think him calling his parents made it really real for me. If it’s bad enough for him to be calling his parents, then this is really bad.
The next day, I cleared out all the nuts from my kitchen and began researching what food I could feed Rob. There weren’t really any great options out there, so I began creating these bars for Rob and I to enjoy. Pretty soon our friends, who don’t have nut allergies, began stealing bites and that’s when we realized that we might be onto something.
I absolutely love the four core values that drive the mission of 88 Acres. Can you elaborate on why they are so important to you?
The framework of the core values have been a part of 88 Acres since Day 1. These are values that Rob and I personally believe in and a great part of having a business is that we get to amplify them.
But I think these values have developed over time. For instance, we heard from some of our team members in the bakery that they wanted to improve their English since it was a second language. So we brought in an ESL tutor to the bakery to help them reach their goal.
We don’t have a clear-cut model for our social mission like companies like TOMs shoes, who donate a pair of shoes to a person in need for every pair sold. For us, it’s really just about improving the community that we’re in — whatever that looks like. And just being able to evolve to meet those needs and to build community within our own company that extends into our overall community.
What do you say to an allergy sufferer who gets frustrated by food restrictions?
We get it and we’re here to help. Between my husband Rob’s peanut and tree nut allergy and our toddler son’s sesame, egg and tree nut allergies, we have to do a lot of label-reading in our house. I’ve spent an hour on the phone walking a concerned mom through our supply chain and manufacturing practices so she can make the best choice for her family’s food restriction needs. I love walking customers through our process because for them, food is a matter of life or death. The amazing thing is that there’s more transparency in food now than there ever has been, and that’s because ALL consumers are demanding it from manufacturers.
When did you first hear about the FODMAP diet?
Honestly, we had no idea what the FODMAP diet was until dieticians started reaching out requesting samples and letting us know that some of our bars were FODMAP-friendly. We spent a lot of time learning about the diet and how we could be a food solution for people following a low FODMAP diet.
What are your some of your favorite FODMAP safe 88 Acres products to recommend? I know mine are the dark chocolate and sea salt bars.
We’re really excited about our two newest bar releases — Oats & Cinnamon and Double Chocolate Mocha. With both of these bars, we made sure to still keep the ingredient deck as simple as possible. So far, we’re getting a great response from these bars — they’re our 2nd and 3rd best selling bars. We’ve noticed that customers really like the dessert-style bars to go along with the fruit-based bars and we look forward to introducing new products to our customers that follow that trend.
Do you have a favorite quote or motto?
One of our suppliers has this quote on the bottom of his email signature and the first time I saw it, it resonated with me. My dad was a sprinter in high school and his life motto to me was “always run with people who are faster than you.” I think that’s why I like the Christopher McDougall quote below.
“Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up, it knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve. It doesn’t matter whether you’re the lion or a gazelle- when the sun comes up, you’d better be running.” — Christopher McDougall
If you could pick 3 dinner guests, dead or alive, who would they be?
Oprah, Michelle Obama, and Anthony Bourdain