Ask Dave: An Epic Disappointment

Posted on February 2, 2016 by


I recently got an exuberant letter titled ‘The Time For Change is Now!” From Epic Bars, with whom I have a wholesale agreement. Epic Bars are a staple in the trending paleo-realm – made of clean meats and other minimal ingredients, they have very quickly gained a large share of the ‘natural meat bar market’, in fact they just about created the niche. The letter went on to state that the founders made the decision to sell themselves to General Mills in order to better accomplish their aims. My initial reaction was shock…HOW COULD THEY? And then I remembered this:

It is almost always the goal of start up companies to maximize profits, after all we do dwell in a capitalist society. When given an option that will expand their potential market a small company will almost always choose to go big, if that means the formula will change then OK – it won’t be the end of the world. This is the story of so many ‘small foods’ like Larabar, Peace Cereal, and Applegate, they started small then literally sold out. THEN the ingredients changed, the brand appeared nationwide, and they resembled any big box store selection with its piles of cardboard clad homogeny.

In this Epic letter founders Taylor and Katie went on to claim that this acquisition marked a big victory for the principles that Epic bar claimed to represent; as noted by this excerpt:

Our decision to sell EPIC to General Mills will exponentially influence large-scale grassland restoration, further create a need for pasture raised animals, as well as increase the availability of our nourishing food to consumers. This acquisition represents real change in how big food thinks.

I am not sure that Taylor and Katie did their homework here. Did they know that General Mills donated over 1.2 Million dollars to defeat mandatory GMO labelling in California just three short years ago? They are a great company if we look at the numbers, they are good at what they do. They have been steadily growing and acquiring other companies along the way. Does this mean they are changing their world view? Do they now think GMO’s should be labelled? All signs indicate that they are not being changed by their acquisitions but rather the opposite.

What is the message here? Beware the hidden cost of convenience! Any product that seems so affordable and easy is that way for a reason. Mass production still reigns supreme in the US economy and is an extremely tempting option for a once very small operation such as EPIC bars. Once a product is distributed nationally and worldwide the ingredients must keep the pace with demand – this almost always means sacrificing some aspect of quality to make the needed quantity.

There are many ‘paleo-inspired’ start ups picking up where EPIC left off – Nick’s Sticks (available at Genesis Kitchen!), Sustainapak, and Kodee! are all great meat bar/stick brands. Or even better – Make your own! Slice a brisket or roast, marinate, and dehydrate for an incredible homemade jerky. Here is the Genesis Recipe.

Keeping the supermarket somewhat safer for the savvy shopper,


Posted in: Ask Dave