KANSAS CITY — Two founders of startup companies recall childhood memories of chickpeas.
Poorvi Patodia and her sister, Neervi, ate chickpea snacks in the afternoon while growing up in Mumbai, India. Sometimes their mother, Usha, made them. Sometimes the snacks came from the store.
Poorvi Patodia later turned to chickpeas when she was about to have a child.
“Originally I was trying to solve a problem for myself, which is I was pregnant, and I was looking for a healthier snack for myself,” she said.
After experimenting in her kitchen, Ms. Patodia eventually founded Biena Snacks, Boston, in 2012 and now serves as chief executive officer.
“We were a small regional brand for a couple years, and in 2015 we started growing more on a national scale,” she said.
Roasted Chickpea Snacks and Chickpea Puffs from Biena Snacks now are found nationwide in about 12,00 stores, including Whole Foods Market, Kroger, and Sprouts. They are sold online as well.
Garbanzo bean stew
Ashton Yoon grew up in California eating garbanzo bean stew. Her grandparents came from Cuba, where they used the term garbanzo instead of chickpea. At Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, she met two classmates, and the three of them founded Antithesis Foods, based in Ithaca. Ms. Yoon, who has a master’s degree in food science from Cornell, is co-founder and chief operating officer. Jason Goodman, who is a PhD candidate in food science at Cornell, is co-founder and CEO. Allie Hall, also a PhD candidate there, is an R&D associate.
The company makes Grabanzos, which are chocolate-covered chickpeas. They are sold in upstate New York and on the company website. Cereal, chips, croutons and chocolate bars containing chickpeas all could be future product introductions from Antithesis Foods. A chickpea flake might work as a topping for yogurt.
Chickpeas come from the Latin word “cicer,” Ms. Yoon said. The scientific name for chickpeas is Cicer arietinum. Whether they are called chickpeas or garbanzo beans depends on the region of the world.
“So the interchangeably used terms are likely a mingling of Spanish- and English-speaking cultures, especially in a cultural melting pot like the US,” Ms. Yoon said.
Ms. Patodia said chickpeas/garbanzo beans have different names throughout the world. A chickpea snack called leblebi is popular in Turkey.
“I think therein lies another reason why they are so popular,” Ms. Patodia said. “It’s because many, many different cultures have chickpeas as a foundational ingredient that is used very commonly in their culture.”