As an athlete with Celiac Disease, a mom of toddlers, I rely heavily on quick, portable snacks to have on the go and keep me fueled. Having a gluten and dairy free energy bar that is made of real food, ingredients you can pronounce, and a taste you can get on board with was something I was hoping existed. Let's be honest some bars just don't get the job done and that's why we are so proud of what Picky Bars has become.
In 2008 I met a lady, cross training in an apartment complex gym. She was on a spin bike and so was I. I was dreaming of making the Olympics, after taking 12th at the Olympic Trials 10,000m I wasn't even "in" the race. I was 2 minutes behind the top 3. This woman was also trying to make the US Olympic Team but her dream was a reality. Months earlier she had run 14:58 in the 5k, the fastest time an American had run that year. She was in a great spot, ready to make the team. But she broke her foot in that 5k race, and essentially broke her dream. Her name was Lauren Fleshman. Lauren wanted more. She didn't want just her running career to be her only leg to stand on, and define her success. So, sparked by passion and a bad smelling house due to her husband's gas, she began to tinker. Her husband Jesse had began training as a pro triathlete and anytime his training stress went up, so did his stomach distress. She wanted a real food product with high ingredient standards that was intentionally balanced based on sports nutrition principles. She asked if I wanted to come over and chat and get our hands messy in these new energy balls. I was hooked. Hooked on Lauren as a new friend and role model and on this recipe as a solution for what was missing in the energy bar business. All that was needed was a certified kitchen, a business plan, and boom. Luckily Jesse, had just gotten his MBA and knew a thing or 2 about creating a business model, building, a website, and essentially how to run a company. Well ran it, Jesse and Lauren did and transformed their homemade kitchen food business into a well equipped up and running company. I like to think I contributed my dream big attitude and my taste testing skills in those early years. A few website crashes, Lauren's epic US 5k win, Jesse winning Wildflower over and over, the birth of Jude, Zadie, Riley, and Hudson, the resurgence of my running career, and Picky Bars has grown into far more than I could have dreamed. Lauren and Jesse run the company in Bend, OR with a great team. We have an online presence and a monthly subscription club called the Picky Club, and distribution around the country in grocery stores, outdoor, and specialty retail stores. It's more than a company, it's a community. When I see a stranger holding a familiar wrapper, my heart smiles. When someone says they can't live without their Picky Bars, I'm blown away. I too can't live without them and what they have done for our lives. They gave us a purpose outside of our own athletic pursuits. People rely on them, rely on us, and that is freaking cool. Since moving away from Oregon and the company's home base I continue to be our biggest Picky advocate, spreading the word, and sharing the love of bars wherever I go.
Although we have 9 flavors, I have developed an obsession with one flavor. Cookie Doughpness. I don't know what happened. I was getting along just fine with all the flavors and then one day, maybe during my pregnancy, I put all the flavors in a box for the kids and my friends. You know how we can get on a kick of certain snacks or flavors and then it dies off eventually. Well Cookie Doughpness obsession is still full on. Ask my team at Picky Bars. "Oh hey guys it's Steph again, needing a shipment of 50 Cookie Doughpness,, because she's apparently training for that 26 mile race again... big deal."
After years of developing more flavors, Lauren and Jesse thought it was time to expand the line of other Picky products that would carry the same nutritional properties and be there for you like Picky Bars. So Lauren started tinkering with some recipes and teamed up with Elyse Kopecky (Run Fast Eat Slow) to bring to the market Picky Oats. There are 3 flavors, single serve bags, cups, and multiple serve pouches. It's been exciting to see the growth of the company and know where it began, and where it might go.