If you didn’t already know, Colorado is the birthplace of more than just a few food and beverage-related businesses. From Coors to countless craft breweries to casual restaurant chains like Chipotle and Noodles & Company. Let’s not forget the higher end restaurants like The Kitchen, Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar, and Sushi Den. Not to mention too many food brands to count.
After some research on the subject, DiningOut featured 10 food products started in Colorado that are now national (and even international) hits; here’s a taste of their list:
1. Noosa Yoghurt (Fort Collins)
When Colorado resident Koel Thomae was visiting home in Queensland, Australia in 2005, she happened upon a little yoghurt shop that was like nothing she’d ever taste.
“That first taste was revolutionary and from that point forward, I was obsessed.”
A couple years later, she stumbled upon a flyer in a coffee shop for a family-owned dairy farm. She cold-called farmer Rob Graves and convinced him to be her business partner. Noosa, which is known for its ultra-creamy texture and inventive flavors (the newest: Blackberry Serrano), landed in Whole Foods immediately, and also gained a local following at farmers’ markets. Soon after, a deal with King Soopers and a big break with Target unleashed Noosa nationally.
2. Hammond’s Candies (Denver)
Did you know that Colorado’s dry climate is prime for candy-making? That’s in part what Hammond’s Candies credits for its success. In 1920, Carl Hammond’s mother told him he could leave school if he started a trade. So he found a gig apprenticing for a candy maker and then opened his own shop.
It wasn’t until some 70 years later when Williams-Sonoma asked to sell Hammond’s toffee that it morphed from a candy corner shop to a manufacturing operation.
In 2007, Andrew Schuman bought the business and scaled up even more into a 93-percent wholesale operation. Today, Hammond’s, which still sources many ingredients locally, is the largest handmade manufacturer of confections in the U.S. You can go see Hammond’s make candy the same way Carl did back in 1920 with a free tour.
3. EVOL (Boulder)
Climbers, car campers, and other recreationists all know the importance of a big, fat burrito to sate the hunger worked up by a long day playing outdoors. Simple to prepare, super hearty, and nutritious, burritos began as a mere hobby for Phil Anson.
But soon, he realized his burritos were good enough to sell.
His earliest outlets were gas station markets and coffee shops. But demand skyrocketed and soon he had one of the fastest growing companies in the natural foods industry under his belt. Now, EVOL has gone beyond burritos to offer bowls, cups, and other frozen entrées, but there’s still nothing quite like a classic EVOL bean and cheese to banish a case of hangry.
4. Boulder Organic Ice Cream (Boulder)
Guess who makes the only pints of organic gelato in the country? Boulder Organic Ice Cream, that’s who! While the brand got its start as a small-time scoop shop on Pearl Street, it now sells its organic ice cream pints regionally (Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Wyoming, and Nebraska) and its figo! Organic Gelato across the country.
Soon after Whole Foods began carrying the pints, the scoop shop transitioned to a 100-percent manufacturing operation to sell its pints to other ice cream shops and in stores.
If you want it fresh in a cone, you can still find it locally at Larkburger, Eats and Sweets and many other local restaurants and scoop shops. Don’t miss signature flavors like Green Tea, Famous Sweet Cream, and Coconut Crunch!
5. L. R. Rice Honey (Greeley)
Not many companies lay claim to five generations of family ownership. Since L.R. Rice started his honey company in 1924, the sweet stuff has been managed by either himself or his descendants.
While the company stopped raising its own bees to accommodate expansion, it’s now resuming the management of some hives.
Another cool fact, because this family-owned company sells its product as far as South Korea and Japan, the White House invited L. R. Rice rep Ronna Rice to attend the State of the Union as an honored guest this year!
6. Bhakti Chai (Boulder)
It’s safe to say that in this millennium, Americans have fallen hard for two Eastern practices: yoga and drinking chai. And Colorado has its fair share of responsibility for the popularization of both.
In fact, Bhakti—one of the biggest brands in chai—was founded by a Boulderite.
It all started when Brook Eddy took a trip to India and discovered the amazing ritual of drinking chai tea. To recreate the experience at home, she began brewing her own chai back in Boulder, to the delight of friends and family. A single mother of twins, Eddy decided to quit her job to launch Bhakti with a commitment to social and environmental change.