iDaph Events Podcast

A Journey Through Time With JAMBAR Founder Jenny Maxwell: How an Energy Bar Revolutionized the Nutrition Industry

March 02, 2023 Daphne Kirkwood - owner of iDaph Events + Guest - Jenny Maxwell - creator and owner of JAMBAR
iDaph Events Podcast
A Journey Through Time With JAMBAR Founder Jenny Maxwell: How an Energy Bar Revolutionized the Nutrition Industry
Show Notes Transcript

Welcome to our podcast, where we explore the journey of creating the entire energy bar category with power! 

Join Jenny Maxwell, creator and founder of JAMBAR and me, Daphne - owner of iDaph Events, as we dive into an inspiring conversation about how it all started in 1985. 

Learn from Jenny, her story of becoming a pioneer in the energy bar industry and discover what makes JamBar stand out from other bars on the market. Tune in for tips on healthy eating and living plus other interesting insights that you won't want to miss!

JAMBAR podcast

Daphne Kirkwood: [00:00:00] All right. Welcome everybody. I am here with Jenny from JamBar, and we're so excited to have you here today, Jenny to talk about what in the world is JamBar, how did it come about? And for you to just give us some little tidbits about this new bar that's on the. 

Jenny Maxwell: Oh, great. Thanks Daphne.

Jenny Maxwell: I'm happy to be here today. Pleasure to meet with you, your listeners. Good. Yeah. I'm Jenny Maxwell and creator of JamBar, and I'll take you, take us back in history a little bit and you'll get a good idea where we are now and why, and then where I've Back in 1985, my late husband, Brian and I created the entire energy bar category with power.

Jenny Maxwell: Some of yours might remember Power Bar back in the eighties. Oh, yeah. Such thing as an energy bar back then. I 

Daphne Kirkwood: know. That was such a pioneer [00:01:00] move on your bar. You were 

Jenny Maxwell: pioneers. We were your pioneers. People didn't eat before they'd run, no. And so the whole impetus of PowerBar was Brian was an Olympic marathon runner, and I was a competitive runner, and we wanted to create a product for ourselves.

Jenny Maxwell: So we, out of our little kitchen in Berkeley, we created Power Bar. And the process, the product, and we grew the company and sold it In 2000 we had over a hundred employees, very successful. A lot of competitors came on the market. The energy bar category really morphed into different specialties.

Jenny Maxwell: But PowerBar is very innovative and we're very proud of what we accomplished in the food industry and in running community in. 

Daphne Kirkwood: What year was it you started Power 

Jenny Maxwell: Bar? We launched in January of 87. 

Daphne Kirkwood: 87, okay. Yeah. So it 

Jenny Maxwell: incorporated in 85 on the market. In 87. Yeah. Awesome. With chocolate and malt, not just two flavors.

Jenny Maxwell: And then over time we ended up with over 10. But [00:02:00] yeah, it was a really fun journey and running is huge to our success. 

Daphne Kirkwood: Sure. That's 

Jenny Maxwell: awesome. Fast forward now. Along the way. We have six children together, so I'm a very involved mother. My kids are now out of the house and unfortunately, Brian did pass away of a congenital heart defect in 2004.

Jenny Maxwell: Oh. So at that time it was really about reinventing myself and keeping the family together. Yeah, absolutely. And in that process I became a musician, and that's part of the reason for jam. also running remained very pivotal in my life. I stopped competing. After that time, I just couldn't put that kind of stress on my body and, run every day pretty much.

Jenny Maxwell: But I just lost all interest in competition. Yeah. But passed on the running passion to my kids. All of my kids run at different levels from my daughter being very 

Daphne Kirkwood: competitive and my third son 

Jenny Maxwell: being very competi. all the way to my other kids just running for fitness and running in high school, things like that.

Jenny Maxwell: . So [00:03:00] after Brian passed in 2004, it was really keeping things go, know, keeping the family going and trying to discover what I wanted to do to rediscover who I was. . , because I had always identified, it was Brian and Jennifer Maxwell, yeah. And I was very young when I got.

Daphne Kirkwood: Let me ask you with Power Bar, and you sold it. Did during that time when it was gone from you, the whole bar business, did you miss it? Did you think about it? Were you like, oh, I really was still doing that, or Not really? 

Jenny Maxwell: A little bit. It was like a child power was like a child. There was, yeah.

Jenny Maxwell: So it's hard. You let the child go and someone else, that goes on at some next journey and Power Bar. . But it's hard not to be concerned with how it's doing. And how the market is morphing into different types of energy bars and how they're changing power bar. Cuz it was changed from when we sold it to when it, how it ended up and how it is a little bit today and through that whole period of 20 something years.

Jenny Maxwell: So of course, but you can't, since we have no control over anything, you gotta move [00:04:00] forward, right? You gotta move forward. and by moving forward, I just got out of the edge of our industry. , I dabbled in some other businesses. Like I said, I was raising my family and turned in music in 2007.

Jenny Maxwell: I, I started playing the drums and became, decided I was gonna become a musician. Worked really hard at it. Different path. A little different path. What's interesting is a correlation with. . , because with drumming you are, you have four limb independence, right? Both feet.

Jenny Maxwell: Both hands are doing something different. And you're also focusing on a tempo or a cadence, which is similar to when you're running the movement of running and how your heart rate and your breathing is integral to your experience. And with drumming, it's very similar. You really are keeping the temp.

Jenny Maxwell: Yeah. And keeping a cadence and keeping a band together, understanding rhythm. So there, there's a lot of parallels that way. And then as a musician, you can [00:05:00] rehearse or play alone. , or you can play as part of a band. Like with a running, you can run alone. or you can go on the track and run with your teammates.

Jenny Maxwell: Yeah. 

Daphne Kirkwood: So there's just a lot of parallels. I see in your logo behind you, you have the music note and the word jam. So I'm assuming that all ties together with your passions and the name of the bar 

Jenny Maxwell: Yeah. Get your jam on is the art slogan. So the jam bar was really a result of a time in my life where I had to look ahead.

Jenny Maxwell: and conversations with my kids, my daughter in particular about, and looking at the industry of what was out there, right? There was nothing out on the market that I really wanted to eat. And I love energy bars and I'm a food scientist, right? So that's my passion is to create. And I was looking, okay, what energy bars would I even feel like good about eating?

Jenny Maxwell: It tastes good and I feel good about the ingredients and there weren't any . Wow. So I thought I'm gonna give this a go. I'm gonna, I'm gonna make a list of things I wanna put in the product. And when I. and I [00:06:00] want texture. Texture, I want be in flavors and all that kind of thing. And I worked for four years on that process.

Jenny Maxwell: Not necessarily knowing if I was gonna make a company out of it or what the company would look like. And I resulted in something I was super proud of and I would, just like back in the power bar days, I would share it with my friends and family, close friends and say, this is something I'm working on.

Jenny Maxwell: Give me your input. What do you think? and I got to a point in the formulation where I was really ready to go. I shelf life tested everything and all the ingredients were producible and it was had enough of a newness to it that I think it really adds to the category. So the priority is, and what Jam bar is I wanted organic, right?

Jenny Maxwell: There's very few organic energy bars on the market. Yeah. So I want a hundred percent organic. I want real. and that means that I don't wanna use ingredients that are manufactured, that don't exist in nature. And a lot of the angio bars have sweeteners in particular, the brown rice syrup, te syrup that aren't really, they don't really exist in nature.

Jenny Maxwell: They're [00:07:00] manufactured sugars. And that's probably the biggest hurdle and I was able to accomplish that. We need to maple syrup and of course our cost of good, is a premium product. Gemr is a premium product for the reason. I wanted to have a good amount of protein. and be gluten-free, grain-based.

Jenny Maxwell: So I have a nice sort of sustenance to it, not just dried fruit. Dried fruit was great. , but dried fruit bars, which are real fruit bars. It's just a little too sweet for me. I wanted to have a little different texture and a little more product attributes with grains. And I worked with quinoa, sorum, brown rice and oat brand.

Jenny Maxwell: Jam bar is a grain-based product, and I didn't want it to have too much fat because as an athletic food, you want it, you wanna have lower or moderate amounts of fat for digestibility. . So our fat content's only anywhere from four to five, six grams of bar. It's not particularly, it's not based on nuts, let's say.

Jenny Maxwell: There's some good energy bars out there that are natural, but they're based in nuts and that's pretty heavy to use as a pre-race or [00:08:00] during a race. , if you've got a bar that's about 15 or more grams of fat. Yeah. If it's based on peanuts and and stuff like that. Yeah, jam bar really fits the bill of having a comprehensive nutritional package, which is all organic and all real food.

Jenny Maxwell: Yeah. And and then you, gotta taste good. You don't wanna eat. It doesn't taste fantastic. And jam bars really do taste super. . Yes. Because we use all super premium ingredients. So all, 

Daphne Kirkwood: and I've had several of the flavors and I can attest that they do taste good. And they're not, which is nice, especially if I'm on my bike and I pull it outta my pocket, and I'm eating it.

Daphne Kirkwood: I'm not overpowered by it being just too much, 

Jenny Maxwell: yeah. It's not too sweet, not too heavy, clean. There's no, nothing in your mouth. It's just so clean. Yeah. So 

Daphne Kirkwood: do you think that, this bar is pre, during, and after? Is it for all three? 

Jenny Maxwell: Yeah, definitely because of the comprehensive nutritional [00:09:00] percent complex carbs, percent simple carbs, and the amount of protein and the ease of digestion with having a low to moderate amount of.

Jenny Maxwell: And nothing extraneous, no non-food, no sugars that are not gonna digest some of the keto products. For instance, we'll have these sugars that are fake sugars and they interrupt your digestion. You want, you don't want any of that. 

Daphne Kirkwood: You don't want that when you're running a marathon especially. No.

Jenny Maxwell: You don't wanna have any pit stops on the, 

Daphne Kirkwood: you do not wanna be run into that port Dejon, . No. And you it happens. You get these products and you eat 'em along the way, and you're like, why is my gut. Just totally wrecked right now. And it's right. The ingredients that you're right. Tried 

Jenny Maxwell: and true real food.

Jenny Maxwell: So yeah, jam bar's perfect for before, right as you preve pre-race or pre-workout fuel and allergy hours before, and even during. It's so easy to digest, so easy to eat. It's not too chewy, right? Which some of the bars are too chewy or see they [00:10:00] spend a lot of energy chewing. The thing with, you need some water, but a Jaguar bar is not nearly that.

Jenny Maxwell: Again, cause we don't use the manufactured sugar. So you don't have that taffy chewy. It's much easier to, to and then afterwards, just to fuel up cuz you're hungry, yeah. To just 

Daphne Kirkwood: get that in. I know you're gonna be at the upcoming, some of our events this year and the Asheville Marathon.

Daphne Kirkwood: You'll be there. , grab some bars out the course at the water stations for folks to grab. take as they run. How, what's your thoughts on, you always hear don't try something new on race day. How do you feel if somebody hasn't tried your bar and you're a runner, do you, yeah.

Daphne Kirkwood: Hey, grab the bar and give it a whirl on race day? Or would you say try ahead of time, , go to the store, order some, try it. In your training, what are your thoughts on. , 

Jenny Maxwell: I think. I think Daphne depends on the person. Some people have a little less sensitive digestive system and they can get away with eating something that is, maybe they haven't tried before.

Jenny Maxwell: I Jam Bar is so [00:11:00] clean and so easy to digest. I wouldn't anticipate any problems and I was, yeah, you probably could eat it. The Grace Morning up you had no problem. But in knowing that some people really wanna make sure, right? Cuz they're really sensitive. Better to try it. Just to mention, we are.

Jenny Maxwell: every running store in Asheville area, we're at Fleet Feet, foot Rx, just running and Mountain Running Company. Okay. So we do have jam bars available in the Asheville area and then we're also gonna be Earth Fair. Okay. Pretty soon here in the next week or so. So we have pretty good distribution in your area.

Daphne Kirkwood: Good. Can people order 'em online too if they're not here? 

Jenny Maxwell: Definitely Nashville. Okay. Definitely. So we have our website, jam And. Pretty easy. Yeah. Okay. 

Daphne Kirkwood: Tell me a little bit more about, you've built this bar and. You're really concerned about people's health and nutrition that's obvious.

Daphne Kirkwood: [00:12:00] Where do you see this bar going? Are you gonna add more flavors? Do you have all the flavors out there? I've heard this mango bar. Is it Mango that I supposed to try Mango? Is it yet? But apparently that's the flavor people. The 

Jenny Maxwell: hit we wanted Running, running Runner's World Award for in February of the Best Bar And Mango was the flavor.

Jenny Maxwell: Of the award. It's a law. It's like oats and greens and mango. It's so delicious. Cashew butter. It's absolutely delicious. We have mango, then we have Ja Berry, which is four berries. Those two versions are plant-based protein with the sunflower seed protein. Oh. So those are the ones people that want to eat vegan or plant-based.

Jenny Maxwell: That's for for those consumers. And then we have our chocolate and malt milk, which are whe based from milk protein. Everything a hundred percent are organic and super high quality. But to answer your question, I'm always working on new flavors. So that's what I love to do. A little short on time right now cause growing the company and growing pretty rapidly.

Jenny Maxwell: But there will hopefully be a [00:13:00] new flavor next year. Okay. Growing fruit version. And then one thing I wanted to mention is a big part of Jam Bar other than a great product is our Phil. we do. And we've committed to donating 50% of our profits to organizations that promote active living, running and biking, and getting outside and music.

Jenny Maxwell: And the reason we combine those two types of life skills and experiences is that first of all, it makes for you a well-rounded human being to have activity and music as part of your life. When I was at a dire spot in my life when I turned to music, I wanted to make sure that people understand, have the access to music.

Jenny Maxwell: So that's actually how I got the name for Jam Bar. . So to get your jam on, which, could be running too, but it's usually a musical term. Yeah. 

Daphne Kirkwood: That's great. . Anything else you wanna say about Jam Bar, the business, where you're headed, history, anything that you didn't cover that you want [00:14:00] folks to 

Jenny Maxwell: know?

Jenny Maxwell: I don't know, maybe a little of my history. So I've been running my whole life, . I started riding when I was a little girl. She ran a marathon when I was 13 years old. So I have been running my whole life and I'm still running Really? And yeah. And I've learned along the way that I need to moderate.

Jenny Maxwell: I wish I could go run really long distances, but now that I'm in my mid fifties, that's, I've had to moderate, running 45 minutes or so. , whether that's four or five miles combining with some walking and some hiking and some swimming. But I'm really happy that I can still run cuz it's so core to who I am.

Jenny Maxwell: S the 

Daphne Kirkwood: pleasure I get from being outside. It's such a gift. I think it. , I've been running 22 years. I got it a little bit later in life. Yeah. And I've battled with, running injuries and so I've sw, I swim, I bike religiously. I do yoga religiously. Okay. Just to balance out.

Daphne Kirkwood: But if I could run every single day, I would, but it just, yeah. Bobby, long term. That's . , 

Jenny Maxwell: that's exactly right. 

Daphne Kirkwood: Yeah. But I [00:15:00] think having that balance is really key too, just in life in general, is even if you wanna go all in on something, it's nice to have that balance with things and Yeah, being more, and it's good for your muscles and your body and everything too.

Jenny Maxwell: Yeah. So I'm still running, which is great and music adds a lot to my life and I'm just really happy that I have the ability to create this company of Jam Bar. Yeah. And we make our own product. We have a state-of-the-art production facility here in San Rafael, California. Ate employees and we have a lot of fun.

Jenny Maxwell: And we're just doing a lot in the community. That makes me feel really good. The amount that we're able to contribute Yeah. To the community. . 

Daphne Kirkwood: We really appreciate your partnership and for partnering with our events that our community can try your bars and see how yummy they are. And we're in the health and wellness business too, creating experiences for people that they're gonna take and remember the rest of their [00:16:00] life, so right.

Daphne Kirkwood: Having your bar there helps enhance that experience and we really do appreciate your support. Oh. And part, thank you. That way. It really thank you a lot to us. And 

Jenny Maxwell: I Great. I know we're involved with a bunch of you running. Do you have a the course we'll be at the Asheville Marathon and the Trail Running Film Festival.

Jenny Maxwell: Okay. And there's some some other local 5K and 10 K events. We'll be at this. 

Daphne Kirkwood: Nice. Yeah. It's good to get plugged in and you'll have different audiences and all of those different events, yeah. 

Jenny Maxwell: Yeah. Cool. Thank 

Daphne Kirkwood: you. Thanks, Jenny, for your time. And it's, thank you. Just learning more about you and your brand and your business and how it aligns with our events, and we're excited to have your product there.

Daphne Kirkwood: So thank. Thanks for all your kind words 

Jenny Maxwell: and your support as well. 

Daphne Kirkwood: Really appreciate it. Yeah, we're cheering for you. All right. 

Jenny Maxwell: Thank you so much. Have fun.