88 Acres are a must for food allergy families

88 Acres are a must for food allergy families! Amanda Massello, Director of Digital Marketing and Ecommerce for 88 Acres, and I caught up on Twitter one morning and that tweety relationship turned into a sampling of 88 Acres at my front door. They are very delicious, and nutritious, so I thought you might like to learn more about this fairly new item that may be safe for your household. Keep reading to take advantage of the 15% OFF COUPON CODE at the end of the interview. How timely is this interview since so many of us are trying to find safe and tasty school snacks?!

Like so many food allergy businesses, Nicole and Rob Ledoux’s started with a dream…ok, maybe not a dream, but in this case an anaphylactic reaction on Nicole and Rob’s FOURTH DATE.

Kristin: Nicole (cofounder of 88 Acres) can you share your experience with Rob’s anaphylactic reaction on your fourth date? I can’t believe you were newly dating…what went through your mind?

88 Acres are a must for food allergy families

Nicole, Rob and Emmett Ledoux
Image courtesy of 88 Acres Instagram

Nicole: I met Rob during the fall of 2010 in the old fashion way, on Match.com. While our first date was amazing — Saturday brunch in Boston followed by taking a long walk around the city with my chocolate lab, Bear — it was our fourth date that stands out. We were grabbing dinner from my local pub, when Rob looked across the table and told me to get him to the Emergency Room as fast as possible. His meal was contaminated with nuts (thankfully it wasn’t my cooking!). For most of us, no biggie…but for Rob, his throat was beginning to close due to his severe allergy to nuts! So our romantic fourth date resulted in me speeding through the streets of Boston looking like a deer in headlights with Rob in the passenger seat, calling his parents with one hand and holding his Epi-Pen in the other.

We got to the hospital where he was whisked through triage and into the ER. His parents arrived about an hour later, which was an awesome way to meet them for the first time…”Hey nice to meet you future in-laws, your son is in anaphylactic shock.” I stayed by his bedside all night, watched him the entire next day, and rid my house of nuts as soon as I got home.

This experience not only cemented my love for this guy, but spawned a pretty awesome food startup as well. And now we are married, started 88 Acres together, and have a 6-month old baby boy named Emmett!

88 Acres are a must for food allergy families, let’s start at the beginning.

Kristin: Let’s start at the beginning, what inspired you to start making bars and then move on to package and market them?

88 Acres are a must for food allergy families

88 Acres Bars come in three flavors: Apple & Ginger, Chocolate & Sea Salt and Triple Berry. Image courtesy of 88 Acres Instagram

Nicole: I am a farm-raised foodie. I grew up in Central Massachusetts on a farm that grew produce. I had never known anyone with severe food allergies, but because of his, the way I thought about food began to change.

Rob and I were training for a big triathlon. There weren’t a lot of healthy, convenient foods out there that Rob could bring for fuel on our bike rides and hikes. So I started tinkering with homemade granola bars made with seeds that we both could enjoy and eat to sustain our energy.

Soon enough, friends and family were asking for some to take home. After sharing the bars with our workout group and getting feedback at farmers markets, we knew we were on to something. Rob’s Dad also started his own company. I was moved by his retirement speech about having given it a go, so he would never wonder “what if.” Shortly thereafter, I left my career in finance to bring 88 Acres to life.

88 Acres are a must for food allergy families, let’s start at the beginning.

Kristin: How much did you experiment with flavors before deciding on the prize three? What was the worst tasting bar that you made?

Nicole: The first two flavors came pretty easily. Both Rob and I love blueberries and cranberries, and when we discovered dried Zante currants at our local Whole Foods, we added them in for an instant hit. The sweetness of the berries is offset by a little pop of sea salt and a hint of cinnamon. The Chocolate Sea Salt flavor came as a request from some early 88 Acres fans (including Rob). They were like “hey, the Triple Berry is great and all, but can you make us something with chocolate in it?” The hardest part of developing the recipe for Dark Chocolate & Sea Salt was finding an amazing-tasting chocolate without dairy or soy. With only 8 ingredients, it’s our simplest flavor, and it contains just enough chocolate to satisfy the sweet tooth while still delivering on the nutrition front. For the Apple & Ginger bar, I REALLY love ginger and wanted to figure out a way to incorporate the ingredient into a bar. Ginger tends to be a polarizing ingredient though–most people either love it or hate it. By offering ginger with apples and golden raisins, and warming it all up with pumpkin pie spice, we’ve turned many on the anti-ginger front into fans.

One of the things we’ve been focused on lately is adding in some seasonal flavors baked in super small batches. When springtime hits, I head over to my family farm to get the first stalks of rhubarb out of the garden. I love the combo of strawberries and rhubarb! I dried some rhubarb and strawberries in my dehydrator a few months ago and whipped up a batch of strawberry rhubarb bars. They were NOT a hit. I’m still tinkering with the recipe and am determined to figure out how to make this flavor amazing!

88 Acres are a must for food allergy families.

Kristin: What do we have to look forward to? Are there any other products in the works?

88 Acres are a must for food allergy families

Seednola comes in three flavors: Apple and Ginger, Chocolate and Sea Salt and Triple Berry. Image courtesy of 88 Acres website

Nicole: We just launched a new online-only product this month, Seednola, which is a crunchy granola. Since the first batch of bars made in my Boston basement apartment, baking has been a simple process. It starts with great ingredients, a sheet pan, and an oven. Our bakery today looks no different. Our ingredients are still mixed by hand and baked on sheet pans, but we do have a bigger oven. When we cut a craft seed batch into bars, we always end up with edge pieces. It’s always been our food philosophy to aim for zero waste in the kitchen. Scraps from early bar bakes were transformed into delicious, crunchy seednola by popping the edge pieces back into the oven. Each seednola batch is upcycled and unique; it depends on the amount of edge pieces created during a given craft seed bar bake. It’s truly small batch – we put together just a few bags each day. This is why for now, it’s an online-only product.

And we are developing new bar flavors with higher protein and a line of seed butters. Soon we will have lots of products to pack with kids for school lunches!

88 Acres are a must for food allergy families!

Kristin: How can families get a hold of your bars?

Nicole:  We ship nationwide from our office in Boston. Families can place orders online at 88acres.com. For readers your readers Kristin, we would also love to share a discount for you to sample our products. Just add the COUPON CODE KRISTINBT at checkout for 15% OFF your first order.

Thanks 88 Acres for sharing your time and tasty bars with the food allergy community. Feel free to also follow 88 Acres on: FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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