It’s a perfect example that hard work, vision, and a little good luck pay off. On January 11, Judy Goodman and her Cranberry Hemp BGood Bar won the Good Foods Foundation national award for best snack bar in America. Stars of the Slow Foods movement, including Alice Waters and Slow Foods founder Carlo Petrini hosted the awards ceremony in San Francisco.
The awards recognize foods made of ingredients produced by socially and environmentally responsible practices, resulting in foods of craftsmanship and flavor. They also emphasize the principals of the Slow Foods movement: defending regional traditions, promoting good food, and encouraging a slower pace of life.
Judy Goodman’s BGood Bars check all the boxes.
“I use locally sourced foods,” Goodman said, “including local Oregon honey as the only sweetener in the bars, cherries and organic heirloom blueberries from Washington, and Oregon hazelnuts. The coffee for the Espresso bars is roasted right here in Joseph by Red Horse.”
Goodman’s bars competed with more than 2,000 entries in 16 categories for the Good Foods Awards. She almost didn’t enter her prize-winning Cranberry Hemp bars in the competition. “It cost $75 to enter one item, and I’d entered two other bars,” she said. “But when I renewed my membership in Good Foods, it came with a free entry into the competition. I don’t know why I entered the Cranberry Hemp. It seems to sell fewer than the other varieties. But I’m glad I did. It was my wild card.”
BGood Bars is a truly local business. Goodman learned the craft of a chocolatier when working for Arrowhead Chocolates from 2011 to 2012. There, she also made Arrowhead’s now extinct “Summit Bars” which came in Espresso, Blueberry, Peanut Ginger and Pistachio Cherry varieties.
Then she moved on to work at Community Bank. But one life-changing day in 2013, Wendy Reininger, co-founder of Arrowhead, had to do some banking, and saw Judy. “If you made those bars again, we’d buy them from you,” she said.
Judy borrowed kitchen space at then-restaurant Caldera’s, and made test bars, sticking with the same flavors that she had made at Arrowhead. She consulted with Small Business guru Catherine Mathias about brand and business names, procedures, and marketing. Then she gave notice at the bank, and never looked back.
Founding, funding, and growing her business hasn’t been easy. To make ends meet, she used her background as a fisheries biologist, and love of teaching to work as a part-time manager and programs director at Wallowology. Last year, she lost a BGood Bar contract to produce a different kind of sports bar for a company in Idaho. “I lost half my business,” she said, “They wanted me to lower my prices, change the quality, and I said “No”. I had my first anxiety attack then. That was in May of last year. Then I realized I had to get going. I hustled and got new accounts.”
Her Good Foods national award has brought new business—13 new accounts, including 11 orders from Market of Choice—a national chain of upscale supermarkets with stores in Portland. Goodman has just filled an order for 1300 bars, and needs to provide the same for another order in two weeks. And that’s only the beginning.
There are new challenges to face. Last year, an east-coast fast-foods company challenged the BGood bar trademark. Their name is b.good. Rather than engage in a costly legal battle, Goodman is changing the name of her company from BGood to JöR (pronounced ‘Your”) which “…sounds good and also means “Earth” in Old Norse,” Goodman said. The new name and logo will take effect in the spring.
Although Goodman’s business has grown, it’s still mostly a one-woman operation. Making each bar by hand is more a craft than a production line, and Goodman likes it that way. “It’s truly an art,” she said. “Each bar is made by hand, with care and thought and love. I see a lot of value in that.” It is, as she says. “Slow Food and Slow Money.”
Maybe in another 4 or 5 years she’ll find someone to buy her business, Goodman thinks. The idea of kayaking, going for hikes, and just enjoying life is somehow attractive. But so is making the very best snack bar in America.
Goodman’s BGood Bars are available in Wallowa County at: Arrowhead Chocolates; Red Horse Coffee Traders; Wallowa Lake Lodge; Wallowology; Marketplace Fresh Foods; Winding Waters River Expeditions; Salutations Studio; Ruby Peak Naturals; Wild Carrot Herbals; Sei Mee Tea; JB Bane & Co.; The Bookloft; Longhorn Espresso; Hurricane Creek Coffee.