Photo by Kyle Webb
Healthy Austin snacks
When Doug Foreman, CEO of Beanitos Inc., decided to dip into the chip industry, he decided to do things a little differently.
Spending the majority of his life in the food industry, Foreman was determined to make a chip that was both filling and healthy, which led him to create Beanitos.
Toiling in his kitchen for two years looking for a new twist on the chip, Doug took notice of the glycemic index, which is a ranking of carbohydrates on a scale of 0 to 100 according to the extent to which they raise blood sugar levels after eating, according to the American Diabetes Association.
“There is a lot more awareness of food and where it comes from and what it does to you,” Foreman said.
It is this awareness that has helped the Austin-based business dip into the market, but Foreman is still battling preconceived notions.
“If I blindfold you and give you our black bean chips and a corn chip and ask you to eat some guacamole, ours will come out on top every single time because it has flavor people aren’t even used to,” Foreman said.
“I recently met with an investor who asked me, ‘What will my kids think about it?’ We had a cheese flavor at the time that we were working on, and I told him the kids in our neighborhood said they taste just like Doritos. About two weeks later we met again with this same investor and he brought his kids and his wife along and we were just meeting, and he was letting the kids try it, and he turned to them and said, ‘So kids, what do you think about the chips?’ And they said, ‘These taste just like Doritos.’”
Foreman’s goal is to have people not feel as if they made a trade-off, giving up taste with the idea that they have to eat his chip because it is a healthier alternative, he said.
“You have to change the mindset of people,” Foreman said. “People will say they have seen the chips around, then they try it and are like ‘Wow.’”
Changing minds is still something Foreman strives to do, but creating a category helped the company get on store shelves.
“Everything starts as an idea and goes into my kitchen,” Foreman said. “If I was going to make a corn chip, I could call up hundreds of food scientists, but when you change up the ingredient they all go, ‘I don’t know, but you should try that and see if it works.’ It’s kind of like inventing the lightbulb. It’s a lot of trial and error.”
With chip in hand, Beanitos and Foreman knew what they were up against.
“With [Beanitos] we went, ‘OK, there are corn chips, potato chips and no bean chips,’” Foreman said. “We create the category, and as it becomes more popular, more people jump into it.”
Foreman says that Beanitos’ popularity is on the rise, referencing a number of emails from customers about how the chip has helped them.
“You have created something that is touching people’s lives and helping them. I think that recently another milestone for us was being on ‘[The] Dr. Oz [Show],’” Foreman said.
Foreman hinted at a number of ways the company can go in the future, including bringing production of the bean chip back to Central Texas from Southern California.
As far as potential new flavors, the company plays it close to the vest, but according to Foreman, new ones are in the works along with bean-based products to compliment it’s chips.
Beanitos Inc., 3006 Bee Caves Road, Ste. A-315, Austin, 609-8017, www.beanitos.com