BATTLE CREEK, MICH. — Nude-look granola is so last season. The Kellogg Company subsidiary Bear Naked Custom, Solana Beach, CA, is opening a culinary costume trunk, allowing consumers to peruse subtle and flashy flavors for their breakfast to don. Christopher Tutor, general manager, talked with Baking & Snack about his company’s innovative approach flavor choice.
“We wanted to empower consumers to create whatever they wanted, and we wanted to give them both traditional options such as strawberries, raspberries and chocolate and non-traditional options like lavender, jalapeño and green tea matcha powder so they could experiment and really refine to their very specific taste preferences,” Mr. Tutor said. “With more than 50 ingredients available, consumers have almost 500,000 combinations from which to choose.”
Citing the limitations of traditional retail outlets for customization, Mr. Tutor explained that these custom granola blends are available for purchase exclusively at www.BearNakedCustom.com and are shipped for free anywhere in the contiguous US. Taking full advantage of this online platform, Bear Naked Custom partnered with IBM to design IBM Chef Watson, a program to help shoppers get the most out of their formulations.
“IBM Chef Watson is essentially an ingredient matchmaker that serves as a guide through the process,” Mr. Tutor said. “Watson is able to understand and visualize relationships between ingredients and their underlying chemistry, and as a result, ‘he’ is able to help identify unique combinations of ingredients that are likely to taste good together.”
In addition to Chef Watson, Bear Naked enlisted the help of three human chefs of varied traditions to formulate their own signature blends. Sergio Semolina of the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) created his Chocolate Strawberry Jalapeño blend, following the Mexican practice of combining heat and sweet. Attempting to capture the experience of walking through a spice market in Istanbul, New York chef Sayat Ozyilmaz’s “Olive You, Kale” blend combines olives, kale, basil, oregano, toasted oat granola and a touch of red sea salt. Finally, pastry chef Melissa Fritz, CIA, created Michigan Farms, a hearty mix of cinnamon apples, blueberries, sweet praline pecans and gently burnt caramel.
All of Bear Naked Custom Granola’s ingredients are Non-GMO Project Verified and thoughtfully sourced from reputable locations, according to the company. They are then baked into an 11-oz mix. Each canister of granola retails for $9.99.
“We built Bear Naked Custom in response to a clear consumer need and desire for more taste exploration and culinary adventure,” Mr. Tutor said. “We’re taking it one step at a time but are excited to learn more about consumer preferences so we can continue to drive innovation across all Bear Naked products.”