Local Vendor Focus: Thunderbird Energetica/EPIC
I recently interviewed Taylor Collins and Kate Forrest, founders of Thunderbird Energetica and EPIC.As well as producing healthy, nutritious foods, they are two of the nicest people you’ll ever meet!—Adrienne
Tell us about how Thunderbird Energetica got started.
The first Thunderbird Energetica bar was created to help Katie heal from a serious inflammatory injury of her knee. She was training for the Kona Ironman World Championship race and unable to run or bike due to pain. We took a step back and considered what types of food we were consuming and how this might contribute to inflammation. We ended up eliminating inflammatory foods from our diets and created the Cherry Walnut Crunch bar. We loaded it with natures most potent anti-inflammatory ingredients (Turmeric, Cherries, buckwheat) just for Katie. Within a few weeks her knee was significantly better and she was 100% back to training. We were so excited about this amazing creation that we decided to start selling the bar locally.
What is your favorite flavor?
Katie’s favorite flavor is Bison Bacon Cranberry. Taylor’s favorite flavor is Almond Cookie Pow
How did Epic Bars get started?
The EPIC bar idea came to us during an extended camping trip in West Texas. After days of eating only sugar based, high carb camp food, we were craving something savory and high in protein and fat. We were frustrated that all the “protein” bars we carried were made of heavily processed isolates and syrups. We wanted to make a high quality, portable protein snack that was made of whole foods. We decided that the best way to do this was through grass fed animal protein (just like our ancestors ate). We started experimenting with making bacon jerky for 100 mile bike rides and we really liked the way our body felt. It was clear that we needed to invent this bar that could only be described as EPIC.
What was the reception for each brand in Austin?
The reception for each brand in Austin was great. This is our hometown and people here love healthy foods and active lifestyles. There is a strong embrace of real food and creativity in Austin and the community support has always been our backbone to growth.
We realized Epic Bars “made it” nationally on the day we launched the product to the public. In truly EPIC fashion, we launched the bars at Natural Products Expo West (the largest natural foods show in the world). Within the first two hours of the show, we had signed the two largest national accounts in the country! It was amazing! Everyone was talking about it, people’s reactions were incredible, and we walked away with a “NEXT forecast” awarded by New Hope 360 (the organizers of the event). The NEXT forecast is awarded to only a handful of companies that the show organizers felt were doing something truly innovative and category creating.
What are some unusual ways to use or cook with Epic Bars?
I love making eggs with pan fried bison bacon cranberry bars! Its a staple addition to my breakfast every morning. We also have made BLT creations with the bison bacon cranberry bars. I honestly think you can put that bar in any meal and it only makes it better! We have a monthly recipe section on our blog where we make amazing meals with EPIC bars.
What are your plans for the future of Thunderbird Energetica and Epic?
It is our goal to continue to make innovative snacking products using high quality ingredients. We want our brands to become household names for trusted healthy food on the go. We are continuing to expand nationally and always doing R&D. We have some amazing things in our pipeline.
We also have future plans to purchase ranch land in Central Texas that has been deemed “damaged” or “unusable”. We want to restore the land through holistic management practices that involve livestock. It will serve as an educational hub to teach others that focus on native grass restoration adds tremendous value to animal raising and the environment as a whole!
What gets you most excited about EPIC?
We get really excited about being a part of a food movement that has the potential to greatly improve the way livestock is raised in this country. We support ranchers who raise their animals on pasture and have humane operations. We believe that through holistic management of land, livestock can add tremendous value to the environment. We love being a part of this!