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How Peatos Is Transforming America’s Taste For Corn-Based Snack Foods

How Peatos Is Transforming America’s Taste For Corn-Based Snack Foods 355 355 Kelsey Berryhill

I spoke with Nick Desai, CEO and Founder of World Peas Peatos, who shared the benefits of a diverse background when it came to second (and third and fourth) careers. Before dedicating his career to the snack industry, Desai’s experience spans over twenty-five years of operations, private equity/investment banking, and law.

EE: How did you get your start in business? 

ND: I went to law school, and was an attorney for MGM, in the entertainment industry. After that I worked for a former ICM talent agent who started his own company, representing writers and directors, where I learned about the power of storytelling. In business, there are the numbers the story. When you are building a brand, the story is the part that people respond to most.

EE: What an interesting evolution in your career. How did you get from working at ICM to your current position?

ND: I pivoted into investment banking, working with middle market entrepreneurs, and helping them raise money. I come from a family of entrepreneurs, so it was a natural progression. But when the market crashed in 2008, I migrated to the private-equity side of the business as a Managing Director at Shackleton Equity Partners, a firm focused on the lower middle market. I decided to buy a distressed company and fix it up and bought into a small software company with other partners. Within 90 days we turned it around. A little later, I wanted to do something in the food space—specifically the snack arena, because everyone is interested in food, and it’s a fun subject to tell stories about.

EE: What kind of snack food did you want to work with?

ND:  I was born in the United States, but have family from India. I liked Doritos, Cheetos, and other salty snacks, which are all  made from a corn base. But, I discovered the salty snacks  in India are based on peas. They have the same sodium and fat level as American snacks, but contain more protein, and no GMO. Then in 2016, I came across a company called World Peas that was marketing wasabi pea and roasted fava bean snacks to places like Whole Foods and Sprouts.

We decided that our company would revolutionize American’s most beloved snacks, replacing the corn base with a pea base, and take it mainstream. Our goal was for the Kroger, Walmart, or Publix shopper to eat better and healthier without sacrificing taste.

It took us two years to replicate the taste and aroma you get from eating a bag of junk food but with a pea base, in Peatos snacks. In 2017, Kroger said they wanted to launch Peatos in 2000 stores. In May 2018 they launched nationwide.

EE: What’s next for your company?

ND: We want to remain focused on being the company delivering pea-based junk food in the U.S. We plan to launch additional products, and are going after the top 10 snack brands (like Frito Lay) in the country.

EE: Any advice for someone trying to start a business?

ND: Believe in your dream: When you start something new, want it bad, and be in it for the long haul. Grit and persistence will make you successful, not IQ.

Study the market Understand who are the competitors? If you are trying to build a business, you will need outside capitol. You have to convince people to join you in your big idea.

Hire smart: Have the right team. They have to see your passion and hiring and finding the right people. Understand what you bring to the table, what your wheelhouse is, and hire people to fill in the rest.

Never stop improving. Stay one step ahead of the competition. Try their products, read the industry papers, and talk to the consumer.

Trade Up:Find out the key trade organizations in your state and attend them to make contacts in your space. Make them mentors; put them on your board of directors.

Follow Estelle on Twitter.

Estelle Erasmus is a parenting educator, award-winning journalist, writing coach, and adjunct journalism instructor for New York University. She has been published in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Family Circle Magazine, Parents Magazine and more. She is an ongoing guest editor for Narratively, and hosts the podcast for the American Society of Journalists and Authors ASJA Direct. Follow her on Instagram @EstelleSErasmus. Go to her website (estelleserasmus.com) to sign up for her newsletter.

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Stock Your Pantry With These Healthy Lunchbox Snacks — All Available on Amazon!

Stock Your Pantry With These Healthy Lunchbox Snacks — All Available on Amazon! 355 355 Kelsey Berryhill

Kids love good snacks, but they don’t usually put much thought into whether those snacks are good for them.

To make your job a little easier (because you deserve all the help you can get), we’ve rounded up 21 of the newest, healthiest kids’ snacks — all on Amazon. Because when kids are headed back to school, they need healthy snacks to keep them attentive and energized throughout the day, and it falls on us caregivers to stock up quickly so they can snack (and snack, and snack) when hunger hits.

Here, you’ll find veggies transformed into chipsprotein-packed chocolate treats, and even cheese puffs made from chickpeas. They’re all available on Amazon, too, so you don’t even have to leave the house to fill your fridge and pantry with these healthy goodies. Keep reading and get shopping!

Peatos™ Crunchy Chili Cheese Puff Snacks

If Peatos Crunchy Chili Cheese Puff Snacks ($15 for four bags) remind you of that other cheesy puff with an animal mascot, you’d be right. Peatos is on a mission to revolutionize how we feel about “junk food,” and these spicy plant-based cheese puffs (made from peas and lentils) are doing just that.
Peatos Chili Cheese

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The 100 Healthiest New Food Products of 2019

The 100 Healthiest New Food Products of 2019 355 355 Kelsey Berryhill

Out of all the new food products that were introduced to grocery stores in 2019, these are the healthiest.

Americans are getting smart about what we’re putting into our bodies, and food manufacturers are listening.

More people are cutting back on sugar (and have been for the past few years), 7 out of 10 Americans are trying to eat more plants, and low-carb diets like keto are gaining in popularity.

Luckily for us, the products we can buy in grocery stores are reflecting all of these changes. And if you’ve walked into a grocery store at all in 2019, you know what’s coming: high-protein, low-sugar, plant-based, dairy-free foods. But just because a product meets these buzzwords, it doesn’t necessarily make it good for you.

These new essentials will help you snack smarter, meal prep more easily, and stick to your healthy eating plan all throughout the year.

That’s why our researchers at Eat This, Not That! compiled a list of some of our favorite healthy groceries that were introduced to grocery store shelves in 2019. These new essentials will help you snack smarter, meal prep more easily, and stick to your healthy eating plan all throughout the year.

We’ve done all the groundwork, so all you’ll have to do is add these 100 healthiest food products in 2019 to your next shopping list.

Healthiest New Pretzels, Chips & Dips

Peatos™ Ranch

130 calories, 8 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 180 mg sodium, 12 g carbs (3 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 4 g protein

Do away with that feeling of regret after making your way through a huge bag of empty-calorie cheese snacks. Instead, grab a bag of Peatos. Made from peas and lentils instead of corn and potato, Peatos have twice the protein and three times the fiber of your favorite bag of Cheetos, so you’ll feel full and satisfied after snacking.

peatos ranch bag

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11 Unique Cheese Snacks You Can Buy Online

11 Unique Cheese Snacks You Can Buy Online 355 355 Kelsey Berryhill

Out of all the new food products that were introduced to grocery stores in 2019, these are the healthiest.

When everything seems like it’s going wrong, go eat cheese. Wait… that’s not it. When Plan A fails, don’t worry — there’s cheese. Is that the saying? Whatever. Sometimes, words fail. You know what never fails? Cheese. And if you’re feeling like sinking your teeth into some, keep reading for 11 unique cheese snacks you can buy online.

One can never get enough of that chewy, gooey, deliciously cheesy taste, and why would one want to, anyway? It’s no wonder cheese snacks have always been a crowd favorite. And thanks to a wide selection of options online and on grocery store shelves, there’s never a shortage of taste bud-tingling snacks for die-hard cheese lovers.

One can never get enough of that chewy, gooey, deliciously cheesy taste, and why would one want to, anyway? It’s no wonder cheese snacks have always been a crowd favorite.

Sometimes, though, biting into a brick of cheddar just doesn’t hit the spot. Sometimes, you’re looking for something, IDK, different. That’s why we’re listing 11 snacks that aren’t your run-of-the-mill cheesy treats. And do you know what makes them even better? You don’t have to go out to buy them since they can be purchased online. Yay for avoiding human interaction and face-to-face communication!

If you love cheese and you love snacks, then keep reading, because you’re about to drown in a puddle of your own drool. Bon appetit!

Peatos Crunchy Puffs Snacks

130 calories, 8 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 180 mg sodium, 12 g carbs (3 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 4 g protein

Do away with that feeling of regret after making your way through a huge bag of empty-calorie cheese snacks. Instead, grab a bag of Peatos™. Made from peas and lentils instead of corn and potato, Peatos™ have twice the protein and three times the fiber of your favorite bag of Cheetos, so you’ll feel full and satisfied after snacking.

Read the full article here >>

8 Hottest and Healthiest Sweets and Snacks

8 Hottest and Healthiest Sweets and Snacks 355 355 Kelsey Berryhill

David Zinczenko reveals his top picks for great tasting and good-for-you snacks from the Sweets & Snack Expo.

The Sweets & Snacks Expo Show, the largest confectionery and snack event in North America, is the place to see the latest, greatest and most innovative new snacks and treats, from bean snacks to low-sugar candy. Founder of Eat This, Not That! and Health and Wellness Contributor at the TODAY Show, David Zinczenko, went to bring you back the hottest (and healthiest!) new eats that’ll replace your standard go-to snacks.

I’ve chosen the most impressive picks from the expo that happen to be healthier versions of your usual standby snacks. Whether they’re lower in calories, higher in protein, have less artificial ingredients, are perfectly portioned or simply made cleaner than your usual candy or snacks, we found the best of the best healthier treats at the Sweets & Snacks Expo that are Eat This, Not That!-approved.

Peatos Crunchy Puffed Snacks

Other varieties (Classic Cheese, Masala, Fiery Hot, and Chili Cheese) are available now on Amazon and at Kroger.

Do away with that feeling of regret after making your way through a huge bag of empty-calorie cheese puffs. Instead, grab a bag of Peatos. Made from peas and lentils instead of corn and potato, Peatos have twice the protein and three times the fiber of your favorite bag of Cheetos, so you’ll feel full and satisfied after snacking.

Nutrition per 1 oz bag (Ranch flavor, for example): 130 calories, 8 grams fat (1 gram saturated fat), 180 milligrams sodium, 12 grams carbs (3 grams fiber, 1 gram sugar), 4 grams protein

Be sure to read the full article and watch the show segment on Today.com

Nick Desai of Peatos | CEO’s You Should Know

Nick Desai of Peatos | CEO’s You Should Know 355 355 Kelsey Berryhill

Nick Desai the CEO of Peatos joined KFI’s Jane Wells to talk about his innovative new company that’s taking on the junk food snack industry by offering a much healthy alternative to other types of snacks.

Desai describes his product as a crunchy puff snack (like Cheetos), made with peas instead of corn. The snack was born out of Desai’s many visits to his grandparents’ home in India, where he says he was introduced to the Indian world of junk food snacks.

“When we go to India, I was exposed to the India world of junk food snacks – also fried, also crunchy, also delicious,” said Desai. However, he says there was a key difference between American snacks and the ones he ate in India – the Indian junk food snacks were made out of peas and lentils, which as it turns out, is much healthier for people than the ones made of corn or potatoes like we find in the United States.

When Desai examined the nutritional profiles of American snacks vs the ones made out of peas and lentils, he realized Indian junk food snacks had 2x the protein and 3x the fiber. The peas/lentils snacks were also non-GMO and naturally gluten-free.

While he had a great product, Desai says he still needed money and expertise to make his company succeed. To do that, he turned to the network he’d created during his time as an investment banker. After dozens of cold calls and some rejections, Desai found the money he needed to get his company off the ground.

After they created the product in 2017, Peatos sent out samples of his product to grocery distributors all over the nation. At first, Desai says he was disappointed by the lack of response to his product and samples. Four weeks later, the head of produce for Kroger markets gave Peatos a call, wanting a meeting with Desai

Litigation Is Not A Substitute For Innovation

Litigation Is Not A Substitute For Innovation 273 273 Kelsey Berryhill

The Cattleman’s Association and other ranchers are using regulation and litigation to stop non-meat, lab-produced products from labeling their offerings as meat. They fear the same disruption as the dairy industry, now proliferated with products such as almond milk, cashew milk, soy milk, oat milk and coconut milk, and associated brand extensions into non-dairy styles of yogurt, cream cheese, ricotta, mozzarella and other vegan cheese substitutes. However, huge producers such as Tyson and Cargill are betting on the popularity of plant-based meats with large investments.

Original Reddi Wip, the aerosol can of whipped cream, is a 71 year old brand. It has a fat free version, a chocolate version and an extra creamy version. It is a dairy product. But, not wanting to miss out on the dietary trend of non-dairy products, Reddi Wip launched two non-dairy versions: a coconut milk version and an almond milk version. And, yes, probably to the chagrin of the dairy industry, Reddi Wip uses the terminology “almond milk.” Reddi Wip did not choose to litigate in court. Reddi Wip created options to attract new customers who have different dietary habits. They decided to compete in the marketplace.

Rather than introduce a grain-free snack into this swelling category, Frito Lay has decided to litigate, battling an upstart brand made of non-GMO peas and lentils instead of corn, with no artificial flavors, colors or MSG Peatos.

Yet, there are some big brands that would rather fight in court than fight by competing for brand preference. Today, one snacking trend is non-grain, non-GMO, gluten-free, organic products. Rather than introduce a grain-free snack into this swelling category, Frito Lay has decided to litigate, battling an upstart brand made of non-GMO peas and lentils instead of corn, with no artificial flavors, colors or MSG Peatos. Peatos joins a host of other non-grain (think Paleo and other low carb diets) niche branded snacks such as Hippeas, a chickpea snack and Black Bean chips from Garden of Eatin.

Frito Lay’s cease and desist letter complains that Peatos is too similar to Cheetos®, their cornmeal cheese snack with some artificial ingredients and food coloring. Size-wise, it is no contest: regular Cheetos is a $1.5 billion brand; Peatos has generated $5 million in sales since its birth. With all of its expertise and marketing resources, Frito Lay could be innovating to address the increasing popularity of non-grain snacks. Instead, Frito Lay is using lawyers to stop the potential success of a competitor, albeit a David to Frito Lay’s Goliath.

Unilever took the same approach trying to protect its Hellman’s/Best Foods Mayonnaise brands. Rather than create its own eggless vegan version of the spreadable condiment, Unilever went to court to stop Hampton Creek (now Just Foods) from labeling its egg-free vegan Just Mayo. Unilever argued that a product cannot be a mayonnaise if it does not have eggs. After the suit became a PR nightmare. Unilever was accused of being a bully while wanting to stop sustainable food companies. Unilever dropped the suit. Unilever prides itself on its social consciousness. The American Egg Board also attempted to stop Just Mayo from being sold in Whole Foods. Hampton Creek agreed to change the label on Just Mayo to emphasize that the word Just in Just Mayo stood for honesty, genuineness, and integrity.

Size-wise, it is no contest: regular Cheetos is a $1.5 billion brand; Peatos has generated $5 million in sales since its birth…Frito Lay is using lawyers to stop the potential success of a competitor, albeit a David to Frito Lay’s Goliath.

Of course, brands need to protect their trademarks and trade dress. But, using litigation to protect a brand from the increasing desire for competitive alternatives that satisfy different customer needs is a formula for failure. The best strategy for brand protection is renovation and innovation to satisfy the changing needs of a dynamic marketplace. Recognize the changing needs of both current customers and of potential new segments of customers. Using litigation in place of segmentation is just delaying inevitable brand decline.

Hiding from the changing world using litigation to stave off the inevitable, a marketer will be ill-prepared for the future. Litigation is not an effective marketing defense against changing consumer needs. Insightful, targeted innovation and renovation are the way forward. Cannibalize yourself or a competitor will do that to you.

Houston Family: Family Ditching Center Aisle for Produce Section Snacking

Is Healthy Snack Food Actually Healthy—or Just Addictive?

Is Healthy Snack Food Actually Healthy—or Just Addictive? 273 273 Kelsey Berryhill

Peatos - the revolutionary crunchy puffed snack makes junk food you can feel better about.

Did you know such a magical thing as “healthier” junk food exists? I stumbled upon it last summer in what I think of as my home Whole Foods, in Gowanus, Brooklyn. I was navigating my toddler’s stroller around all the other toddlers’ strollers when I encountered a bag of Hippeas Vegan White Cheddar Organic Chickpea Puffs. The label advertised three grams of fiber and four grams of protein and contents that were USDA organic, kosher, soy-free, dairy-free, nut-free, and non-GMO. I gathered a small collection in my basket and perused the rest of the aisle. The whole snacking landscape had changed! There were Beanitos (tortilla chips made of beans), pastured paleo pork rinds, green-pea snack crisps, and various chips, all of which seemed to be made of cassava. Back home, still abuzz with discovery, I went on a mail-order binge, clicking away on flax-and-almond cheddar crackers, einkorn cookies, quinoa puffs, bites and bars of fruit-juice pulp, chocolate wafers made from coconut flour and cage-free eggs, lentil chips, edamame puffs, chocolate-covered cracked quinoa, and the entire line of pea-and-lentil-based puffs called Peatos.

I had filled our dining-room table with boxes and bags of snacks, and there was hardly a genetically modified ingredient in sight. A great number of the treats were “free of the big eight”—the eight ingredients responsible for 90 percent of the country’s food allergies: wheat, soy, milk, tree nuts, eggs, peanuts, shellfish, fish. None had “artificial flavors.” Many contained fiber, whose absence in most processed foods has been starving our microbiomes for decades. The packages almost universally advertised that they were “plant-based.”

A cynic might quibble that potatoes, soy, and corn—on which packaged snacks since the invention of the potato chip (by a devious genius in 1853, according to Saratoga Springs legend) have relied—are also plants. But there was no cynic present, only a former junk-food lover preparing to subject all of these healthy nibbles to a rigorous taste test.

I first chose a most discriminating and candid group—my two-year-old son and his friends—and served them Bohana puffed water-lily seeds in both pink-salt and cheddar flavors, beet vegan goat-cheese chips, Peatos, and “cauliflower pretzels.” I tiptoed away to observe the results from behind a door frame.

I had expected at least one tear at the discovery of puffed pea protein instead of fried processed corn. But everyone munched happily away…

The theory that all children are geniuses came from the marketing team at Baby Einstein or deluded parents. The toddlers rushed to the alternative-snacks bowls just as they would have to cookie dough or a singing dinosaur. I had expected at least one tear at the discovery of puffed pea protein instead of fried processed corn. But everyone munched happily away, stuffing down beet and cassava and then stealing one another’s water bottles. The Bohana puffs were a particular favorite—though all the parents, including me, found them to have a disconcerting, livery tang.

Speaking of adults, when the older generation began showing signs of hunger, I added more substantial offerings to the table. There rang out, for a few moments, the sounds of snacking success. “I’m genuinely excited about the Core + Rind Cashew Cheesy Sauce,” said one guest; “I like this sea-salt cassava chip,” said another. Lime-flavored Siete chips seemed a hit. Then, without warning, the mood turned. “I don’t like the grain-free fuego chip,” someone mumbled. Cassava faux-cheese bread was scorned as sub-par. There was flat-out refusal to taste candidates from a new company called Peckish that packages boiled eggs with powdered dips like “fried rice,” “rancheros,” and “maple waffles.” (I tasted them. The eggs were high quality and perfectly cooked. The dips were ghoulish.) Final mutiny came in the form of a universal complaint that all the cassava was making everyone’s mouths feel coated and sticky.

And yet there were undeniable successes. Everyone liked Peatos and Simple Mills cheddar and sea salt crackers. Whisps—little snaps made simply of Parmesan cheese in an imitation of Italian frico—were irreproachable. Urban Remedy’s kale chips and zucchini chips were light and crisp. Hippeas never made an appearance, because I had finished my whole supply mindlessly at my desk. A product called Undercover Quinoa was held back from consideration because it was so good—imagine a Nestlé’s Crunch bar that’s a tiny bit saltier and made with better chocolate—that neither my husband nor I wanted to share it. And who could possibly find fault with sustainably raised pork rinds? It’s early yet for healthy snack foods. Some flops are to be expected. In time, the best products will rise to the top.

A more interesting question is whether any of these foods are actually “healthy.” And when does “healthy” lose its quotation marks? I have reviewed the available medical and scientific literature. I have talked to snack-company executives, the nutritionists they employ, unaffiliated nutritionists, metabolic scientists, behavioral ecologists and one neuroendocrinologist. What I have learned is that there is no single answer. This is an area hazier than gray and more nebulous than fog. And the more research I did, the less I knew.

To begin with, the elimination of grains and corn from snacks: Wheat is, as I mentioned, one of the eight big allergens. Corn is not, but most of the corn in the United States is genetically modified—which may or may not prove to be of concern in the long run. If you want to avoid genetically modified corn and you want to avoid wheat, snacks made of cassava are an entirely reasonable substitute. (Though Kristin Lawless, nutritionist and author of a terrifying book called Formerly Known as Food, pointed out to me that if you don’t have an allergy to one of the eight common allergens, avoiding them isn’t necessarily a good idea. “Early introduction of common allergens has been proven to lower allergies,” she wrote me. “Hence the new advice to try peanuts early.”)

If you avoid wheat and corn to avoid carbohydrates, cassava is probably a bad idea. Cassava flour contains many more carbohydrates—over 20 grams more per serving—than whole-wheat flour. It is also far less nutrient dense. And then there’s maltodextrin, which is on almost everything with a “flavor” and is a starch-derived carbohydrate with zero nutritional value.

From here, the dangers multiply. A number of the healthier snacks suggest that you can eat them with impunity. “Eat freely!” declare Enjoy Life’s Lentil Chips—even though they contain potato starch, canola oil, cane sugar, and maltodextrin. I Heart Keenwah Puffs (of which I loved the chocolate-covered ones) call themselves “the mindful munchie” and bear the encouragement “Go ahead—dig in, lick your fingers, eat those crumbs off your shirt. You just opened a crunchy, munchy snack that’s as good as it is good for you.”

For all history, processed snacks have encouraged binge-eating—“Betcha Can’t Eat Just One” may be the catchiest slogan in advertising. But these new snacks use a “health halo,” says Matthew Dalby, Ph.D., who studies the microbiome at the Quadram Institute in the U.K. “If you eat something that you think is healthy, it can actually change other things in your diet,” he says.

And worse: A 2016 study found that when chronic dieters were given the choice of a “Fitness Trail Mix” or “Trail Mix” (which were secretly identical), they ate more of the former—and were less inclined to exercise after. This is what health-halo research has shown, according to Rachel Herz’s engaging recent book Why You Eat What You Eat: The Science Behind Our Relationship with Food: “If you believe you’ve done something healthful in one aspect of your life,” she writes, “you give yourself a pass in others.”

Beanitos call themselves “a lean, mean nutrition machine” and a “good source of fiber.” This drove Robert Lustig, M.D., UCSF neuroendocrinologist and author of The Hacking of the American Mind, to start shouting over the phone. “No processed food can ever be a good source of both kinds of fiber!” He used an unseemly analogy having to do with hair in a shower drain to explain that unless a food has soluble and insoluble fiber, it’s not doing what it’s supposed to.

And yet there were undeniable successes. Everyone liked Peatos and Simple Mills cheddar and sea salt crackers.

I learned, via press release, that Peatos are sold in the produce section of grocery stores. Their bags announce, “For the first time, you can get all the ‘junk food’ taste you crave AND the nutrition you have been looking for.” So I called Nick Desai, the founder and CEO of Peatos—which do have more protein and fiber than Cheetos—to ask him whether he thought this was actually true. He was steadfast. “If you ate two pounds of Cheetos a day and you replaced it with two pounds of Peatos, you just put two times more protein in your body.” He went on: “We wanted to build in that salty, fatty cravability,” but he insisted that his company hadn’t engineered Peatos to short-circuit the satiety system and addict you the way snacks from the big food companies do.

Peatos use real cheese—not chemical agents—for flavoring. This put me in mind of Mark Schatzker’s alarming 2015 book, The Dorito Effect, which argued that it isn’t so much salty processed snacks as the ascent of fake flavorings that’s responsible for obesity. A number of studies have since backed up this claim. As Schatzker himself put it to me: “I don’t really have a problem with sea-salt flavors or with potato chips or pork rinds. But when you get into spicy flavors that don’t contribute the benefits of real chiles or cheese flavor that isn’t cheese, I think you’re just creating more people with messed-up feedback systems.”

Speaking of cheese, there are a number of questions about whether any product containing dried cheese can be good for you. First, The New York Timesreported that a study testing 30 products with dried cheese found that all but one contained the dangerous chemical phthalate, used to soften cardboard and plastic. Second, research by the late biochemist Fred Kummerow, who called out the dangers of trans fats as early as the 1950s and was shunned for it, has shown that when fats like those in dairy or eggs are heated and dried, they have a high likelihood of oxidizing. And while dietary cholesterol like that in dairy and eggs has not been shown to cause clogged arteries or heart disease, oxidized fats have been.

So, to snack or not to snack? And on what? As of this writing, Upton’s Naturals was within weeks of stocking Whole Foods shelves with “100% vegan Ch’eesy Mac and Ch’eesy Bacon Mac,” a “plant-based take on a classic comfort” food that is shelf-stable and ready in one minute. I haven’t had a chance to taste it so can only confirm that it is, according to the company, “completely free of nuts, dairy, oil, trans fat, cholesterol, GMOs, and artificial flavors.” I can’t help notice that it is also free of any residue of the last decade’s ample evidence that cooking one’s food from scratch, buying from small, local producers, and eating in communal arrangements once called “family meals” is healthy for body and society.

Better than Junk Food

Are “healthy” snacks actually good for you?

Are “healthy” snacks actually good for you? 273 273 Kelsey Berryhill

Better than Junk Food

Vegetable-themed snacks like cauliflower puffs and Peatos aren’t traditional potato chips, but they’re not not chips, either.

Recently, I ate some “cauliflower puffs,” which are like Cheetos, only they are not Cheetos, because they are made with cauliflower. Cauliflower is a vegetable. Did you know vegetables are good for you? I’ve heard this. The bag, from a brand called Vegan Rob’s, doesn’t exactly promise that “Probiotic Cauliflower Puffs” are “healthy” — as in, it does not use the word “healthy,” a term that the Food and Drug Administration is redefining at this very moment. But it did say it was “plant based” and “crunchy good!” and also gluten-free, non-GMO, vegan, and “powered by Ganeden BC30 Probiotic,” which, the website for Ganeden BC30 Probiotic tells me, is an “EXTREMELY stable” ingredient added to “many foods” to support gut and immune health.

The caulipuffs don’t say they’re “healthy,” but the bag exudes an general aura of health. (We reached out to Vegan Rob’s to discuss, but they haven’t commented as of press time.) The main ingredient isn’t cauliflower — it’s sorghum, no one is pretending otherwise — but still, it seems, at the very least, cauliflower-adjacent. The bag is a vegetal green with a cruciferous print and purple accents. It is granola-chic. If you were in middle school, it is what your weird friend’s cool mom would serve you after school. She would be blonde and elegant but wearing Birkenstocks.

“Love yourself, our planet, and all living things,” the cauli bag advises. “Snack as clean & kind as possible.” It says I don’t have to be vegan to enjoy plant-based snacks (true!) and that if I “meditate and focus on the crunch,” I might feel my “stress melt away” as I “reap the benefits of the cruciferous cauliflower.” Vegan Rob is kidding, sort of. Vegan Rob is self-aware.

Also, Vegan Rob is very good at making snacks, because cauliflower puffs are delicious. They taste like Cheetos with substance. Is that substance a little bit like sawdust? Maybe. I prefer to think of it as the dust of virtue. It gives them a pleasant sort of heft, like you are eating an actual food product, and not caloric air. At the Kroger I checked, they cost $3.99 for 3.5 ounces, compared to Frito-Lay’s Cheetos Puffs, which cost $1.89 for roughly the same amount.

Vegan Rob is not alone. We are living in a golden age of processed vegetable snacks. Once, we were limited to potato chips, corn chips, tortilla chips, and maybe pretzels. Those were the chips. Lay’s. Doritos. Cheetos. Fritos. Tostitos. For the health-conscious, there were Sun Chips — corn chips, but whole grain! — and Terra Chips, which are made from a variety of fried root vegetables and are mostly very pretty. Some are blue, some are red, and others are orange, like impressionism in a bowl.

But in the past several years, there has been a great flowering of alterna-chips, an uprising of vegetables in the snack aisle. (At my local Whole Foods, this aisle is called “Snack Attack!” accurately capturing the violence.) There are Beanitos (2010), which are black bean-based chips, and Splitz (2015), which are crunchy yellow split pea sticks, and ChickBean Crisps from Saffron Road (2017), a mélange of legumes in chip form. There are Peatos (2018), a pea-and-lentil product enough like Cheetos to cause a minor scandal. There are From the Ground Up cauliflower pretzels (2018); “when it comes from the ground,” the tagline reads, “it’s got to be good!”

One might note here that potatoes — the main ingredient in potato chips — also come from the ground. One might further note that, much like Vegan Rob’s cauliflower puffs, many (though not all) regular old potato chips are also gluten-free, non-GMO, and vegan. But no one is arguing that potato chips are healthy. Potato chips are an all-American villain, shorthand for everything that’s wrong with the national diet. Nonperishable, mass-produced, and cheap, potato chips, researchers told the Atlantic, are “one of the most obesity-promoting foods for youth to consume.”

The problem is that chips taste good. People like chips. Chips are designed to be liked. “It’s a classic high-fat, salty food that you just can’t stop eating,” says Traci Mann, a professor of social and health psychology at the University of Minnesota. This has historically been chips’ main selling point. “Betcha can’t eat just one,” challenged Lay’s. “Once you pop, you can’t stop,” taunted Pringles. This product is so good, you will continue to eat it until it becomes a threat to public health.

For brands, this presents a market opportunity: chips, but healthy chips, designed to capture consumers who want to “eat better,” whatever that means. Who want to eat vegetables. Who care about health, but also convenience. People who know chips aren’t great, nutritionally speaking, but who want to eat chips. People who don’t eat chips but would if they could feel good about it. People who could feel good about it if only they could be sure that their chip wasn’t the bad kind of chip.

“They’re clearly out there to convince chip-loving people that they can eat these and still be healthy,” Mann tells me. She’s tempted, she says, even though she’s a professional. “I’ve noticed them and thought, ‘Oh, you know, I could eat a delicious, crunchy chip and it won’t be bad for me.’”

Vegetable chip alternatives, by their packaging (earthy and highbrow, which you can tell because the bags are generally matte) and their nutritional brags (more protein! more fiber!), are positioned as snacks to feel good about, or at least okay about. Chips you could eat while maintaining your identity as someone who mostly doesn’t eat food from vending machines.

But are new-wave vegetable chips actually better for you? Is it worth trading your Flamin’ Hot Cheetos for Fiery Hot Peatos? How are we supposed to feel about Brussels sprout puffs, which are exactly like the cauliflower puffs, except slightly greener?


Comparing each product ingredient by ingredient — calorie to calorie, protein to protein — you see slight variations. A 1-ounce serving of original Beanitos has 7 grams of fat; an equivalent serving of nacho cheese Doritos has 8 grams. A serving of Peatos has 130 calories, while Cheetos has 160. Calorically, the differences are generally trivial.

The new-vegetable chips are mostly lower in fat than their classical counterparts, but not by much: an ounce of Vegan Rob’s Brussels sprout puffs has 8 grams of fat; Lay’s Classic potato chips have 10 grams. Sodium is a wild card: From the Ground Up cauliflower pretzels have 330mg of sodium per serving, for example — less than the classic pretzel equivalent, Rold Gold (450 mg), but nearly double a serving of regular Lay’s (170 mg).

Where the alterna-chips come out consistently ahead is on fiber and protein. Splitz, the crown prince of fiber, has 8 grams — about a third of what’s recommended daily for women, in one hip little bag — while potato chips and pretzels have a lone gram. (Most of the vegetable chips hover in the 3-gram range.) The old-school chips have about 2 grams of protein; some of the new health alternatives have double that, or more.

Are there differences? Sure, yes. Are the differences meaningful? Not quite, says Jeanne Goldberg, a professor of nutrition at Tufts. “No one should be eating [vegetable chips] thinking that they’re doing something better for themselves than eating potato chips.”


The difference between 1 and 3 grams of fiber? “You can make up that difference just by how big a handful you pick up,” she says. As for the protein: Most of us are already doing just fine. “Of all the things Americans need to do to modify their diet, adding protein is not it,” Goldberg says. “There is no reason to think, ‘I’m going to eat cauliflower chips because they have more protein than potato chips.’ That’s silly.”

While it is definitely true that vegetable chips contain at least some of the vegetable they claim to be chipped from, how much of that vegetable varies wildly from product to product. The first ingredient in Beanitos is indeed black beans; the first ingredient in Splitz is, as promised, yellow pea flour. But Brussels sprout powder — that is, Brussels sprouts that have been dehydrated and ground into a dust — doesn’t appear until midway down the ingredient list for the puffs, meaning they contain more sorghum flour, sunflower or safflower oil, nutritional yeast, and rice bran.

Is it bad that there’s more nutritional yeast in the puffs than Brussels remains? Not inherently. It’s just that it’s not all that vegetal. Which is just fine, as long as you think of it like what it is: a prepackaged snack food, a chip. “We should think of them as brilliant marketing of health auras,” says Marion Nestle, a nutrition researcher at NYU and, most recently, the author of Unsavory Truth, about conflicts of interest in food science. “I think of them as dietetic junk foods.”

“If you like Brussels sprout chips and you can afford 130 or 140 calories’ worth of Brussels sprout chips, great! In terms of health benefits, don’t go for the Brussels sprout chips,” Goldberg tells me.

“It’s really sort of parallel to SnackWell’s cookies, isn’t it?” Mann says. “It’s a little better than a regular cookie but not awesome. Eating a bunch was still like eating a bunch of cookies, for the most part.”

But you knew that already; we all knew that. You’re supposed to eat whole foods, ones that don’t come in packages. You’re supposed to eat fresh fruits and fresh vegetables and not ones that are dehydrated and milled into flours and fried. Maybe they’re a little better than the alternative — a little more fiber, slightly fewer calories — but they’re not a health food, and that’s fine. Not all foods are health foods.

“I think if you asked people, they would tell you they know the products are junk foods, but slightly better ones,” says Nestle. “But the marketing is supposed to hit people below the level of critical thinking.”

What I remember most about SnackWell’s, icon of ’90s ultra-low-fat diet culture, is that they were like regular prepackaged cookies, but a little bit worse. Just a touch less delicious, a pinch less like things that exist naturally on earth. This has always seemed to me to contribute to their glow of health: They’re not as good as regular cookies (to eat), so they must be better than regular cookies (for you).

There’s research to back this up. “The finding is that ‘healthy’ and ‘tastes bad’ are highly associated in our mind, so if we hear something is ‘healthy,’ we’re going to think it tastes worse. And if something tastes bad, we’re going to think it’s healthier,” Mann says. This, she points out, presents a kind of challenge for the health-washed junk food industry. “Since they’re clearly being presented as healthy, our response to them should really be, ‘Oh, those are going to taste bad.’” But they sell. They’re everywhere. They’re pretty good.

Is it possible this is actually an asset? If no one expects “healthy” chips to be as good as regular chips, they don’t fail if they’re a little weird. As long as they’re still pretty good, isn’t the slight weirdness a sign of their virtue? Is it possible that maybe, by tasting slightly worse — or at least, less familiar — than classic potato chips, neo-veg chips feel healthier?

Goldberg buys it. I believe it in my bones, based on the fact that I have yet to leave a bag of new-wave chips unfinished. Maybe the chips will introduce people to new vegetables, make them more adventurous eaters of cauliflower in non-puff contexts. Is that possible, I ask Goldberg? “Do you think so?” she counters. I don’t, although I do like innovation, as a concept.


Everyone I spoke with for this story reiterated that if you want to eat a potato chip, you should just eat a potato chip; that if you like cauli puffs, you can have some cauli puffs; that you can be a healthy person who, in moderation, occasionally has some chips made from whatever vegetable you want. Obviously, that is true. “Personally, I love really good potato chips and can’t imagine substituting lentil chips,” Nestle says.

But maybe the primary allure of the non-chip chip isn’t exactly that it’s healthy — as Nestle says, people likely know, deep down, it’s not. But it’s just divorced enough from other classic chips — villainous chips, the chips you have been warned about — that regardless of whether it’s actually all that different, nutritionally speaking, it’s different in one important aspect: It doesn’t have the baggage.

This is sad, in a way. Wouldn’t it be better if we all had healthy relationships with food, and could eat chips of any kind in moderation, without feeling bad about it, and without convincing ourselves they’re actually salads? Yes. But the fact that we don’t presents food companies with an incredible opportunity: to reconcile the chip as a nutritionally woke snack. “These products are a proliferation of marketing genius,” Goldberg says.

There is one other detail, though, one persuasive argument in favor of the new chip revolution, and that is that it tastes pretty good. It’s novel. Have you had a cauli puff? You should, it’s fun. There is so little fun in the world. But weird chips are fun. They aren’t vegetables. They are nutritionally variable, at best. But we can enjoy them for exactly what they are: a marginally better-for-you entry into the canon of festive snacks.

Fastest Growing Snack in Produce

Peatos ™ Becomes the Fastest Growing Snack in the Produce Section

Peatos ™ Becomes the Fastest Growing Snack in the Produce Section 273 273 Kelsey Berryhill

Within a year since its launch, Los Angeles-based World Peas™ Brand Peatos ™ has become a national sensation, winning over taste buds across the country. For decades, corn and potato snacks have ruled the salty snack industry, but in 2018, World Peas introduced Peatos and provided “junk food without the junk.” Peatos is driving growth in plant-based snacking and has become the fastest-growing snack brand in the produce section in thousands of stores across the country, according to retailer data. The brand has quickly become a top-ranking category leader in several markets nationwide, including Southern California, the largest and most competitive grocery market and is expanding its footprint on the East Coast with the addition of Stop & Shop.

“Brand lovers, including retailers and celebrities, crave Peatos for the satisfying ‘junk snack’ style crunch and flavor that’s combined with exceptional levels of plant-based protein, fiber and clean ingredients,” said Nick Desai, CEO, Snack it Forward. “It has been an incredible year for us and we plan to double down on growth in 2019.”

Growing demand for protein and plant-based alternatives are merging and driving huge growth in categories such as meat, seafood, cereals and pasta from brands like Beyond Burger, Impossible Foods, Good Catch, Ripple, Love Grown Foods, and Banza. World Peas Brand is disrupting the $28 billion chip and “junk snack” category, with a new class of plant-based junk snacks that directly challenges the status quo. It is a deceptively simple notion, to replace the underlying corn or potato base prevalent in traditional salty snacks with a nutrient-dense, non-GMO pulse base and then clean up the seasonings. Common pulses include peas and lentils, which are full of plant-based protein and fibers. The strong growth in new product launches for plant-protein based foods and beverages continued into 2018, with no signs of slowing down.

“People are craving something different and really innovative that meets all their desires. Taste buds have evolved, and this is not the world of diet chips and stale crackers,” adds Desai. “People want the full taste, the crunch, the appeal of ‘junk style’ snacks, but they don’t want all the garbage associated with it.”

World Peas Brand™ Peatos™ is revolutionizing snacking by creating better-for-you plant based “junk food.”

Purposeful snacking has become one of the key trends shaping the food and beverage industry, which ties into the plant-based movement, according to research by Dupont Nutrition and Health. Peatos are a plant protein-based crunchy, puffed snack made of pulses that have twice the protein (4 grams) and three times the fiber (3 grams) of Cheetos® per serving. Peatos also boasts clean, non-GMO ingredients, has no artificial flavors, no synthetic colors and no added MSG. Striking flavors include the popular Classic Cheese, Fiery Hot, Chili Cheese, and Masala.

Peatos are currently available in the produce sections at Kroger and its banner stores including Cala Foods, City Markets, Copps, Dillons, FoodsCo, Fred Meyer Stores, Fry’s, King Soopers, Mariano’s Fresh Market, Metro Market, Pick ’n Save, QFC, Ralphs, Food 4 Less, and Smith’s, as well as Vons, Pavilions, Albertsons (SoCal), Safeway (NorCal), and online on Amazon. In addition to the traditional grocery channel, Peatos™ has developed a strong following in the office foodservice arena with several prominent tech companies serving Peatos on their campuses, and can even be found in green rooms from Hollywood to New York.

To reinforce the public’s positive reception of the brand, Peatos has won numerous awards, including the Editor’s Choice Award for Best Salty Snack from Supply Side CPG, Editor’s Pick Award from Progressive Grocer, and The Best New Product Award from Convenience Store News. Over the last few months, Peatos has captured nearly 5 million audience impressions with over 200 media hits in top tier outlets and trade and online publications, including Men’s Health, Wall Street Journal, Today, Cooking Light, The Los Angeles Times, and was recently featured as The Snack of The Day on a nationally syndicated health talk show, featuring TV’s most famous Doctor.

“On the heels of strong demand, Peatos is poised for massive growth in 2019, during which we plan to give away 1 million bags of product,” adds Desai. “We know that when consumers try Peatos, they fall in love and sales skyrocket! Obviously, we have ruffled the feathers, or should we say fur, of the corny cheetah, but let’s face it, tigers do live longer…and they are also stronger!”


World Peas Brand™ Peatos is revolutionizing snacking by creating better-for-you plant based “junk food.” Peatos™ replaces the common corn or potato base in traditional chip style snacks, with a nutrient-dense, pulse base (e.g. peas and lentils). Peatos are a pulse-based crunchy puffed snack that delivers the bold flavor and big crunch snacking experience we all crave, without the empty-calories. Peatos aims to #unjunkyoursnack thanks 4 grams of plant-based protein and 3 grams of fiber per serving. Find us on Facebook.com/worldpeasbrand and on Twitter and Instagram @worldpeaspeatos.