The beauty of entrepreneurship is that the sky’s the limit when it comes to ideas that have the potential to flower into a successful business. Some people may invent a revolutionary product that puts them on a pathway to a winning new venture, while for others the simplest thing can hold that golden nugget to make their business dreams come true.
For Chris Young, it was breakfast cereal.
“I got started because I was living in Iceland and really fell in love with the cereal I was eating there,” he said. “After I got back to the states, I couldn’t find anything that was really equal to that and so I started making my own. I decided to try something different instead of just going out and getting a 9-5 job. I thought I’d try and start a company.”
A stay at home Dad at the time, Young began experimenting with various grains and sweeteners to develop a cross between European muesli and American granola that he calls American muesli.
“I came up with the recipe that is now our Blueberry Walnut, which is our original flavor,” Young explained, and the family-run company Mountain Muesli was born in 2011. More flavor combinations were soon added, such as cranberry hazelnut and cherry almond, and new products as well like snack bites called Muesli Minis.
“After we were in business for about a year we started to manufacture the snack bites, which has become our more popular product,” Young said. “They’re really a cereal bite that’s held together with some almond butter and some really good stuff in there like flax seed and pumpkin seed.”
Mountain Muesli products are gluten free and made in small batches at a dedicated facility in Tacoma to ensure that the products are never contaminated with wheat, soy, corn, eggs, dairy or peanuts. Only wholesome, all natural, non-GMO ingredients are used without any additives or preservatives. Mountain Muesli is sweetened with a blend of honey, agave syrup and coconut sugar, which has one of the lowest glycemic indexes of any sweeteners, then baked to perfection. Mountain Muesli has the perfect balance of protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats to give the body energy the natural way.
As the Mountain Muesli company is growing, Young and his team are making adjustments along the way, which includes launching a separate company called Paradise Foods Northwest in order to produce additional types of healthy foods. First off the production line are gluten free and vegan cookies – chocolate chip, snickerdoodle, shortbread and other flavors as the line expands. This will ultimately be the brand name for Muesli Minis as well, which will then be marketed as Nirvana Snack Bites.
“I just think it makes more sense to have them labeled as Nirvana Snack Bites versus minis or something that’s more ambiguous and people aren’t sure what they are,” Young explained. “Certainly people here know Mountain Muesli Minis and what they are but if you’re in Texas or New York I think it’s better to be more straightforward with what the product is.”
Mountain muesli will continue to be the name of the cereal and the snacks and cookies will be manufactured under the Paradise Foods Northwest name. Currently, Tacoma Fresh carries Paradise Foods Northwest cookies, and more locations are being added. Tacoma Fresh also carries Mountain Muesli products, as does Marlene’s Natural Foods Market, Whole Foods and Metropolitan Market.
Mountain Muesli and Paradise Foods Northwest are all about good food and good health, and the name “Paradise” was incorporated to reflect the company’s love for the natural world – in this case specifically, Paradise at Mount Rainier. “It reflects more the value of what we’re about, which is the outdoors,” Young said. In this spirit, the company donates 1 percent of profits to the National Park Conservation Association and is also celebrating the 100th anniversary of the National Park System.